Updated Aug 11, 2019

Oh, Joe! Biden blunders pile up

Photo: Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

Continuing a parade of slips and gaffes, Joe Biden yesterday told reporters in Iowa that he was vice president during the massacre in Parkland, Florida, which happened more than a year after he left office: "Those kids in Parkland came up to see me when I was vice president," Biden said.

Why it matters: Biden called himself a "gaffe machine" 8 months ago, and his slips have long been part of his persona. But he's 76 — 3 years older than President Trump.

  • Once reporters start looking for slips, they'll find them.
  • And they become a bigger deal than they would be otherwise — like President Gerald Ford's clumsiness or President George H.W. Bush's goofiness.

Biden allies point out that since he's always been this way, it's not a sign of aging.

  • And the WashPost Fact Checker database counted 10,796 false or misleading claims by President Trump during 869 days in office.
  • As the WashPost's Aaron Blake wrote about Biden's "mounting slip-ups": "This isn’t to say Biden’s comments are anywhere close to as problematic as what Trump has said."

Just in the past 2 weeks:

  • The stumble that got the most attention, of course, was when Biden said last week at an Asian & Latino Coalition town hall in Des Moines: "Poor kids are just as bright and just as talented as white kids." He quickly added: "Wealthy kids, black kids, Asian kids." Biden told reporters yesterday: "Look, I misspoke. ... I meant to say 'wealthy.' I've said it 15 [times]. On the spot, I explained it." (Politico)
  • Biden, in a line reminiscent of the Bushisms of President George W. Bush, said at the Iowa State Fair on Thursday: "We choose truth over facts!"
  • For the second time in 3 months, Biden on Thursday caught himself when he referred to Margaret Thatcher, who died 6 years ago and was last prime minister 29 years ago, when he meant Theresa May. Back in May, he corrected himself: "Freudian slip."
  • At a fundraiser in San Diego on the Sunday night after the massacres in El Paso and Dayton, Biden referred to "the tragic events in Houston today and also in Michigan the day before," then corrected himself, according to a pool report.
  • Biden looked out of step with these wired times when instead of giving his web address at the end of the second debate, he said: "[G]o to joe30330." He meant: "Text JOE to 30330."

The bottom line: Trump, who revels in defining an opponent's weakness (see Marco Rubio and the water), asked in a tweet last evening: "Does anybody really believe he is mentally fit to be president?"

  • And Trump, who this week said "Toledo" when he meant "Dayton," said on the South Lawn on Friday: "Look, Joe is not playing with a full deck."
  • Biden's retort, from December, during a book-tour stop at the University of Montana: "I am a gaffe machine, but my God what a wonderful thing compared to a guy who can't tell the truth."

Update ... Biden allies point out that it's not just Biden:

Go deeper

Axios-NewsWhip 2020 attention tracker: Biden pummeled for his gaffes

Data: NewsWhip; Chart: Chris Canipe/Axios

Articles about Joe Biden generated 3.8 million interactions on social media last week — more than that of any other candidate since June — but they were overwhelmingly on stories about his recent blunders. according to data from NewsWhip provided exclusively to Axios.

Why it matters: While Biden's congressional record and moderate credentials are baked into his candidacy — and may be working to his benefit — his recurrent gaffes could invite questions about his mental acuity and fitness for office.

Go deeperArrowAug 13, 2019

Biden misrepresented nearly every detail of his involvement in a 2008 war story

Photo: Sean Rayford/Getty Images

Former Vice President Joe Biden, currently leading in the polls for the 2020 Democratic nomination, got almost every detail incorrect in the retelling of his participation in a 2008 war story at a campaign stop, the Washington Post reports.

Why it matters: Biden has drawn criticism in recent months for public gaffes and slips, including mistakenly thinking he was vice president during the 2018 Parkland shooting and mistaking Margaret Thatcher for Theresa May.

Go deeperArrowAug 29, 2019

Axios-NewsWhip 2020 attention tracker: Biden bombarded with bad headlines

Data: NewsWhip; Chart: Chris Canipe/Axios

Of the 100 stories about Joe Biden that have received the most social media attention over the last three weeks, 77 were negative, according to data from NewsWhip exclusively provided to Axios.

  • Of the 25 biggest, 24 were negative.

The big picture: While stories about Biden may be generating more interactions on social media than his 2020 rivals, it's largely because he's getting ripped apart in those pieces.

Go deeperArrowSep 8, 2019