the gaffe machine

Joe Biden Asks About Whereabouts of Congresswoman Who Died

Photo: Oliver Contreras/AFP via Getty Images

At a White House conference on nutrition and hunger in America on Wednesday, President Joe Biden looked for Representative Jackie Walorski, an advocate for the issue during her time in office. “Jackie, are you here?” Biden asked. “Where’s Jackie? She was going to be here.” But Walorski was not in attendance: In August, the Indiana Republican and two of her aides were killed in a head-on collision on a highway outside South Bend.

The 79-year-old president, who has called himself a “gaffe machine” in the past, was aware of Walorski’s passing. In August, Biden and First Lady Jill Biden released a statement offering condolences for her family and noting her work in putting together the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health, where he made the error. Earlier in the day, a video memorial also played for Walorski, detailing her fight to end food insecurity during her five terms in the House.

It was plain to most observers that Biden simply made a mistake. But later in the day, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre oddly tried to spin his comments as intentional:

“Many of us have gone through that particular time where someone is on top of mind and you call them out,” Jean-Pierre said, adding that Biden is scheduled to meet with Walorski’s family at the White House on Friday. But that’s clearly not what happened. Would it be so difficult for the president’s team to admit the error and move on?

Joe Biden Asks About Whereabouts of Congresswoman Who Died