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“I am a gaffe machine,” Joe Biden admitted in 2018.
Throughout his 47 years in public life, our presumptive president-elect has had a habit of letting his glib tongue run ahead of his brain.
Just last week, Biden raised eyebrows with a garbled explanation of how he and his soon-to-be veep, Kamala Harris, would resolve a serious disagreement.
“I will develop some disease and say I have to resign,” he told CNN, as Harris shook her head in bewilderment.
Many supporters see Biden’s verbal stumbles as endearing — but his chronic case of foot-in-mouth often reveals his ornery side. Take the incident last December when he exploded at an Iowa Democrat who challenged him with some impertinent questions.
“You’re a damn liar, man,” Biden sputtered in an eruption of insults.
Later, one reporter chided him for the flare-up. “You talk about needing to restore civility,” she began.
“It’s not civil to call someone who lied a liar?” Biden bristled in response.
For a man who ran on the promise of a return to political decorum, Biden has a long history of bigoted cracks, public put-downs, and angry outbursts. Here are some of the most notorious …
- “A Much Higher IQ,” 1987
- “Slight Indian Accent,” 2006
- “Articulate and Bright and Clean,” 2007
- Debate debacle, 2012
- “You Stupid Bastards,” 2016
- “Gangbangers,” 2019
- “Poor Kids” vs. “White Kids,” 2019
- “Look, Fat,” 2019
- “Go Vote for Someone Else,” 2020
- “Lying Dog-Faced Pony Soldier,” 2020
- “You’re Full of Shit,” 2020
- “You Ain’t Black,” 2020
“A Much Higher IQ,” 1987
Three decades ago, Biden’s verbal attack on a voter at a New Hampshire house party helped derail his first presidential campaign.
When Claremont, NH, high-school teacher Frank Fahey asked Biden what law school he attended, the then-senator from Delaware melted down.
“I probably have a much higher IQ than you do, I suspect,” Biden snapped as he expounded on a glittering academic record that, reporters later found, was largely imaginary.
The exchange, captured by C-Span’s cameras, resurfaced months later, when Biden was revealed as a serial plagiarist going back to his college days. He abandoned his White House bid soon after.
“Slight Indian Accent,” 2006
In 2006, as he explored a second presidential run, Biden’s penchant for racial insensitivity caused him repeated headaches.
“In Delaware, the largest growth in population is Indian-Americans, moving from India,” he told one voter.
“You cannot go to a 7-Eleven or a Dunkin’ Donuts unless you have a slight Indian accent. And I’m not joking,” he added with a grin.
Indian-American groups objected to what they called “embarrassing, stereotypical comments.”
“We do appreciate knowing what he really thinks of his Indian-American constituents,” said Dr. Raghavendra Vijayanagar of the Indian-American Republican Council.
“Articulate and Bright and Clean,” 2007
Biden’s attempt at magnanimity toward a fellow presidential hopeful backfired spectacularly in 2007.
“I mean, you’ve got the first sort of mainstream African American who is articulate and bright and clean,” Biden said of then-Sen. Barack Obama as both campaigned ahead of the 2008 primaries. “That’s a storybook, man.”
The backhanded compliment instantly branded Biden, then 65, as an out-of-touch remnant of a racially tone-deaf generation — and helped to elevate Obama above the rest of the pack.
“I didn’t take Sen. Biden’s comments personally,” Obama said in a carefully distanced response. “Obviously they were historically inaccurate.”
Debate debacle, 2012
Voters cringed through the vice-presidential debate between Biden and Republican Paul Ryan in 2012, as the hyper-aggressive veep put on a bravura 90-minute display of mugging and eye-rolling.
“Oh, now you’re Jack Kennedy?” Biden broke in as Ryan explained how the GOP’s tax-cut plan mirrored Kennedy’s in 1960.
“Look, this is a bunch of stuff,” he exclaimed later.
All told, Biden interrupted Ryan 85 times with sudden guffaws and dismissive interjections — a heckling strategy much like the one that Donald Trump turned on Biden in their first debate this year.
“You Stupid Bastards,” 2016
A peevish Biden scolded American troops for their tepid response to a set-up applause line in 2016.
“Clap for that, you stupid bastards,” the vice-president barked, minutes into his speech to the 380th Air Expeditionary Wing stationed in Abu Dhabi.
Biden was seeking kudos for his “incredibly good judgment” in having nominated one of the group’s officers to the Air Force Academy — but his pronouncement was met with crickets.
“Man, you are a dull bunch,” he complained, as service members standing behind him gave him the side-eye.
Biden’s apparent cluelessness about racially sensitive language has repeatedly landed him in hot water. One day after Kamala Harris scorched him for his past opposition to racially integrating schools through busing in a June 2019 debate, Biden fumbled to redeem himself.
“We’ve got to recognize that a kid wearing a hoodie may very well be the next poet laureate,” he told members of Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow PUSH Coalition — “not a gangbanger.”
In seeking to dispel damaging stereotypes, critics said, Biden reinforced them.
“This is just another example of lessons that Joe Biden shouldn’t have to learn,” sighed New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker.
“Poor Kids” vs. “White Kids,” 2019
A speech to a group of minority activists in Des Moines, Iowa, set the stage for a stunning Biden blunder.
“We should challenge students in these schools to have Advanced Placement programs,” he said at an Aug. 8, 2019, town hall.
“We have this notion that somehow if you’re poor you can not do it,” Biden went on. “Poor kids are just as bright and just as talented as white kids.”
After a pause, he realized his faux pas.
“Wealthy kids, black kids, Asian kids,” he revamped. “No, I really mean it, but think how we think about it.”
“Look, Fat,” 2019
Aides scrambled to convince voters not to believe their lying ears after Biden launched a barrage of abuse at a retired Iowa farmer who said he was too old for the presidency and questioned son Hunter’s cushy gig with the scandal-scarred Ukrainian gas company Burisma.
“You’re a damn liar, man,” Biden snarled at Merle Gorman (above) at a campaign stop on Dec. 5, 2019.
“And by the way, I’m not sedentary,” he added — an apparent dig at Gorman’s weight. “Let’s do push-ups together, man, let’s run, let’s do whatever you want to do. Let’s take an IQ test, all right?”
As the contentious exchange continued, Biden grew increasingly agitated, finally saying, “Look, look, fat, look. Here’s the deal.”
“It looks like you don’t have any more backbone than Trump does,” Gorman snapped.
But Biden advisor Symone D. Sanders insisted her boss had said “Look, facts” instead.
“Any assertion VP Biden said a word about the gentleman’s appearance is making this something it is not,” Sanders claimed.
“Go Vote for Someone Else,” 2020
Biden got physical with an Iowa climate-change activist who tried to talk up the issue during a selfie session at a Des Moines event in January.
“You ought to go vote for someone else,” the irritated front-runner told Ed Fallon (left), who lobbied Biden to denounce a proposed gas pipeline.
As the conversation grew increasingly tense, Biden patted Fallon’s chest, jabbed him with a finger and grabbed his jacket with both hands — as aides tried desperately to defuse the exchange.
“It was not an appropriate interaction with anybody,” Fallon told KCCI Des Moines. “If I’d done that to him, security would have been all over me.”
“Lying Dog-Faced Pony Soldier,” 2020
One week after his humiliating fourth-place finish in the Iowa caucuses, Biden slammed a young voter with a head-scratching taunt.
“How can you explain the performance in Iowa, and why should the voters believe you can win the national election?” Madison Moore (above), a 21-year-old college student, asked at a campaign stop in Hampton, NH.
“Ever been to a caucus?” Biden challenged her.
Moore nodded yes.
“No, you haven’t,” he told the dumbfounded young woman. “You’re a lying dog-faced pony soldier.”
Moore later criticized Biden’s “inability to answer a simple question from a nobody college student like me.”
“It was kind of humiliating to be called a liar on national TV by the former vice president,” she told the Macon Telegraph.
“You’re Full of Shit,” 2020
Biden’s exchange with Michigan construction worker Jerry Wayne turned fiery during a March 2020 campaign stop in Detroit.
Wayne (left) challenged Biden’s stance on the Second Amendment, saying that the candidate was “actively trying to … take away our guns.”
“You’re full of shit,” Biden shot back.
The discussion deteriorated from there, as Wayne objected to Biden’s finger-shaking fury — “Don’t tell me I can’t point a finger, I oughta go outside with you,” the vice president sputtered, also calling Wayne a “horse’s ass” before aides hustled the two apart.
“I didn’t try to raise any feathers,” Wayne told Fox News. “And he kind of just went off the deep end.”
One day after the clash, Wayne became an NRA spokesman.
“You Ain’t Black,” 2020
A racially fraught remark sparked anger among African-American voters who suspected that Biden and the Democrats were taking their votes for granted this election year.
“It’s a long way until November,” radio host Charlamagne Tha God said as he wrapped up a prickly interview on his influential “Breakfast Club” show in May. “We got more questions.”
That seemed to get Biden’s dander up.
“You got more questions?” he flared. “Well I’m telling you, if you have a problem figuring out whether you’re for me or Trump, then you ain’t black.”
The crack drew instant ire from both sides of the political aisle.
“That is the most arrogant, condescending comment I’ve heard in a long time, and that’s saying something,” Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) said.
A chastened Biden tried to undo the damage later that day in a call with black business leaders.
“I shouldn’t have been such a wise guy,” he said. “I shouldn’t have been so cavalier.”