The Slatest

Dad Who Said “Let’s Go Brandon” to Biden on Santa Tracker Call Insists It Was a “Joke” (Update: It Wasn’t)

Jill and Joe Biden sitting on a couch smiling broadly
Jill and Joe Biden at a NORAD event tracking the path of Santa Claus on Friday at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington. Alex Wong/Getty Images

The father of four who ended a conversation with President Joe Biden with the insulting phrase “Let’s go Brandon,” which means “fuck Joe Biden,” insists he was joking and meant no disrespect to the commander in chief. But he also seems pretty proud of himself for the viral moment and doesn’t appear to have any regrets. After the moment went viral on social media and sparked lots of outrage, the Oregonian talked to the caller, who said he did not mean for his phrase to be seen as crude. “At the end of the day, I have nothing against Mr. Biden,” Jared Schmeck, 35, said, “but I am frustrated because I think he can be doing a better job. I mean no disrespect to him.”

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Schmeck said he isn’t a “Trumper” and characterized himself as a “free-thinking American and follower of Jesus Christ.” Schmeck said he and his family always call into the NORAD Santa tracker on Christmas Eve and he had no idea his call would be picked up by the president. When he called this year, he was told first lady Jill Biden would be taking calls. “I thought it would be automated. We just waited on hold and then they answered,” he said. “And I thought, ‘wow, this is real.’ ”

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Biden and Schmeck proceeded to discuss the gifts his four children were hoping to receive on Christmas. “Well, have a merry Christmas. Have a wonderful Christmas,” Jill Biden said. “I hope you guys have a wonderful Christmas as well,” Schmeck said before adding: “Merry Christmas and let’s go Brandon!” The president replied: “Let’s go Brandon, I agree.” Biden then tried to continue the conversation with Schmeck, asking where he was calling from. “I think we lost him,” Biden said when there was no response.

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Schmeck says he didn’t hang up on the president but had been disconnected. At the time, some members of Schmeck’s family seemed quite pleased with what had just taken place. “My husband may or may not have just told joe and jill Biden ‘let’s go Brandon’ on the phone,” Schmeck’s wife wrote on Instagram alongside two crying emojis. Schmeck also posted it on his YouTube channel and doesn’t seem to have any regrets, according to the caption: “We called NORAD and they patched us to the President! Let’s Go Brandon!”

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Despite the seemingly celebratory posts, Schmeck says the remark was meant as a “joke” and reflected his frustration with Biden’s policies. Now he says he is “being attacked for utilizing my freedom of speech” and claims he has received some potentially threatening phone calls. “I understand there is a vulgar meaning to ‘Let’s go Brandon,’ but I’m not that simple-minded, no matter how I feel about him,” he said. “He seems likes he’s a cordial guy. There’s no animosity or anything like that. It was merely just an innocent jest to also express my God-given right to express my frustrations in a joking manner.”

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Update, Dec. 27, 2021, at 4:01 p.m.: Surprise, surprise, looks like Schmeck is a big supporter of former President Donald Trump after all. Schmeck had told the Oregonian that he wasn’t a “Trumper.” But on Monday he appeared on Steve Bannon’s podcast wearing a red Make America Great Again baseball cap and said he believes the election was stolen from the former president. “I am a Christian man. For me, it’s God first and foremost. I don’t follow any one man blindly. Some of the media’s run with that and said I don’t support Donald Trump. That’s absolutely false, Donald Trump is my president and he should still be the president right now. The election was 100 percent stolen,” Schmeck said. “So, I just want to make that clear.”

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Although Schmeck had said the whole thing was a “joke,” in the interview with Bannon on Monday, the father of four said that uttering the phrase “let’s go Brandon” to the president was his way of voicing “disapproval of this man and his administration.”

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