White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Friday that President Joe Biden repeated the same story just moments after he initially told it during a Wednesday campaign speech because he was speaking “passionately.”
During the 2017 “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, crowds of white supremacists, Black Lives Matter supporters and Antifa militants clashed leaving one counterprotester dead and several people injured. Biden told donors at a campaign reception in New York City that the rally was the reason he ran for president, and then he repeated the story minutes later, nearly word for word.
“Is it any concern that [Biden] would fully retell a story in the same space in the same event?” a reporter asked Jean-Pierre during the Friday briefing.
“I think it’s important to note that the president was speaking, as you said, at a fundraiser, and he was speaking from his heart,” Jean-Pierre said. “He was speaking about why he decided to do this. And you hear the president talk about this, it’s always incredibly emotional for him. He didn’t have to. He went through an incredibly difficult time when he was deciding to jump into the race.”
“He spoke to that passionately, and that is why he is in this because he believes he can help move this country forward in a way that brings it to its best,” Jean-Pierre continued.
Biden asked attendees of the Wednesday campaign reception to remember the “Unite the Right” rally.
“But then along came, in August of 2017, Charlottesville, Virginia,” Biden said. “You remember those folks walking out of the fields literally carrying torches, with Nazi swastikas, holding them forward, singing the same vicious, antisemitic bile – the same exact bile – bile that was sung in – in Germany in the early 30s. And a young woman was killed. A young woman was killed.”
“And this was – and I re – you may remember it,” Biden continued. “There was a consequential piece of business going on. And the former guy was asked, ‘What do you think would happen?’ He was the sitting president. And he said, ‘I thought there were some very fine people on both sides.'”
The president explained during his speech that the events surrounding the rally convinced him to enter the 2020 race.
Biden then recounted discussions with his family about his decision to run for president in 2020, including one with his grandson, before repeating the same story about what inspired him to enter the race.
“You know, you may remember that, you know, those folks from Charlottesville, as they came out of the fields and carrying those swastikas, and remember the ones with the torches and the Ku – accompanied by the Ku Klux Klan,” Biden said. “And in addition to that, they had – there were white supremacists. Anyway, they were making the big case about how terrible this was. And a young woman was killed in the process.” (RELATED: Independent Voters Have A Major Concern That Could Sink Biden)
“And my predecessor, as I said, was asked what he thought,” Biden continued. “He said, ‘There are some very fine people on both sides.’ Well, that kept ringing in my head.”
The president added again that the rally was what inspired him to run because he decided “he couldn’t be silent any longer.”
The apparent gaffe comes as concerns about the 80-year-old president’s age continue to grow. A majority of Americans, 77 percent, believe the president cannot govern effectively because of his age, according to an Associated Press/NORC poll. Of that share of Americans, 85 percent said they do not want Biden to run for reelection in 2024.