The Slatest

In Latest Gaffe, Biden Claims He Was Vice President During 2018 Parkland Shooting

Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden speaks on stage during a forum on gun safety at the Iowa Events Center on August 10, 2019 in Des Moines, Iowa.
Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden speaks on stage during a forum on gun safety at the Iowa Events Center on August 10, 2019 in Des Moines, Iowa.
Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

It seems Joe Biden can’t escape the gaffe curse. The frontrunner to become the Democratic presidential nominee told reporters in Iowa on Saturday that “those kids in Parkland came up to see me when I was vice president.” But when they went to Capitol Hill, Biden said, lawmakers were “basically cowering, not wanting to see them. They did not want to face it on camera.” The problem with this tale? The shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., that left 17 dead took place in 2018, more than a year after Biden left the White House.

It looks like Biden repeated the gaffe twice. There is video of Biden telling the same story but with slightly different words at a forum on gun violence. “I watched what happened when the kids from Parkland marched up to, and I met with them and they went off to up on the Hill and I was vice president they went to the Hill … all those congressmen were like, ‘No, I’m not here. I’m not here.’ “

Although there was some basis in truth for what Biden said, considering he did meet with Parkland students in Washington shortly after the shooting, this was the latest in a string of gaffes that some say could end up dooming his prospects as a presidential candidate. In this case, Biden may have gotten his shootings mixed up and intended to make reference to the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. The only problem with this explanation is that he also mentioned Sandy Hook in a different portion of his address.

Before this latest gaffe, Biden was already trying to dig himself out of a hole he made for himself when he told supporters that “poor kids are just as bright and just as talented as white kids.” He quickly corrected himself and admitted Saturday that he misspoke but accused the media of making a mountain out of a molehill. “I meant to say ‘wealthy.’ I’ve said it 15 [times]. On the spot, I explained it. At that very second, I explained it,” Biden said. “And so, the fact of the matter is that I don’t think anybody thinks that I meant anything other than what I said I meant.” The former vice president also recently confused the locations of the two recent mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, referring to the “tragic events in Houston” and “also in Michigan.” He quickly corrected himself.

Although Biden has long been known for his penchant for gaffes, some worry that it could raise uncomfortable questions about how long he has been in Washington. “It does speak to the fact that we’ve always known that Joe Biden is gaffe-prone,” Democratic strategist Adrienne Elrod said. “It’s part of his charm, but for him, does it remind people of his age and how long he’s been around?”

Trump took to Twitter to attack Biden and wondered, “Does anybody really believe he is mentally fit to be president?” That tweet came a day after Trump also questioned whether Biden had the mental stability to be president. “Look, Joe is not playing with a full deck. I saw his comment. Joe Biden is not playing with a full deck. This is not somebody you can have as your president,” Trump told reporters.

This post was updated with new information since it was first published.