Joe Biden Has Been A Self-Professed Gaffe Machine For Decades But Democratic Primary Voters Don't Seem To Care, Yet

Former Vice President Joe Biden's signature off-the-cuff speaking style has helped him cultivate a down-to-earth image, but it can also get him into trouble.

Biden has been a self-admitted gaffe-machine throughout his entire political career, but his tendency to twist his words into a pretzel or make controversial comments has received more scrutiny than ever as he competes in a historically crowded field.

The former vice president was mocked for flubbing the address of his campaign website in his closing statement during the second Democratic debate.

And during the weekend of the Iowa state fair, Biden made a series of eyebrow-raising misstatements in a row that had the Internet collectively cringing, including:

  • Accidentally saying that "poor kids are just as smart as white kids" while speaking to the Asian-Latino Coalition of Iowa. He later corrected himself and said he meant to say that poor kids are just as smart as wealthy kids.
  • Saying he valued "truth over facts" at another event.
  • Mixing up former British Tory leaders Margaret Thatcher, who was prime minister in the 1980s, and Theresa May, who was PM until earlier this year.
  • Claiming that while he was vice president, he met with survivors of the Parkland, Florida mass shooting — which happened in February 2018, over a year after he left the White House.

Biden's camp predictably dismissed the criticism and concern over his gaffes as a primarily media-driven narrative that doesn't translate to Democratic voters themselves — and to some extent, they're right.

"Joe Biden isn't the frontrunner because he's first in the polls, it's because of who he's polling well with," Ford O'Connell, a veteran campaign strategist and adjunct professor at George Washington University's Graduate School of Political Management, told INSIDER in a Wednesday interview.

"Biden has the majority of support with African Americans, particularly African-American women and seniors. The reason why that matters is because those two groups traditionally turn out the most in Democratic primaries," he added.

"Joe Biden's biggest enemy in terms of winning the nomination is Joe Biden. And it's not because he's making gaffes, it's the type of gaffes that question his fitness and whether or not he can go toe to toe with Donald Trump," O'Connell said.

Read more from Grace Panetta at Business Insider

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published this page in In The News 2019-08-20 12:18:25 -0400
Analysis & Political Strategy