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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Following yet another embarrassing gaffe on the part President Joe Biden when he repeatedly called out for Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-IN) at an event on Wednesday – despite the fact that she had tragically died the month before in a tragic car accident – White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre tried awkwardly – and unsuccessfully – to explain the bizarre incident to reporters during a Thursday press briefing.
Biden, 79, was making an appearance at the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health in Washington D.C. – an event that Walorski, 58, had been a major supporter of – when, during a speech, he began scanning the room for the late Congresswoman, and began calling out to her.
“I want to thank all of you here, including bipartisan elected officials like Senator Braun, Senator Booker, Representative…Jackie, Jackie are you here?” Biden said. “I think she was going to be here to help make this a reality.”
This was especially considered strange since the White House had previously released a statement – attributed to Biden himself – mourning Walorski’s passing in an August 3 car crash that also claimed the lives of two of her staffers and a motorist in a separate vehicle.
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The morbid faux-pas was immediately pounced upon by critics of the President who claim that his cognitive abilities are waning, and White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre – as she has regularly done in the past – attempted damage control with reporters at a press briefing on Thursday.
“[President Biden] was naming the congressional champions on this issue and was acknowledging her incredible work,” she said. “He had already planned to welcome the congresswoman’s family to the White House on Friday, there will be a bill signing in her honor this coming Friday. So, of course, she was on his mind. She was at top of mind for the president.”
However, a reporter then asked the Press Secretary, “The confusing part is why, if she and the family is top of mind, does the president think that she’s living and in the room?”
Jean-Pierre said that she didn’t find that confusing, to which the reporter responded, “I have John Lennon top of mind just about every day but I’m not looking around for him.”
Wednesday’s incident comes as Biden has committed a series of embarrassing gaffes as of late that the White House has been forced to walk back, including inadvertently revealing that he utilizes detailed notes on how to conduct himself during meetings, appearing to attempt to shake hands with people who aren’t there, and bizarrely stating during a recent speech that the Inflation Reduction Act funds healthcare and “God knows what else.”
When asked about this in Wednesday, White House spokesperson Robyn Patterson simply attributed it to the President’s gruff and straightforward nature.
“The President speaks directly and candidly – straight from the shoulder, as he often says,” he said. “Doing so has been critical to his success in everything from rallying the world to support Ukraine to empowering Medicare to negotiate lower drug prices,” Patterson added. “And when he feels the need to add context to something he said, or to direct his staff to do so – as every President has – he doesn’t hesitate to.”
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