“Joe’s always been gaffe-prone — it’s just a piece of who he is.”
That’s the excuse coming from the Joe Biden camp as to why the former vice president and 2020 Democratic front-runner keeps having to put his foot in his mouth while on the campaign trail, with multiple verbal stumbles coming in recent days.
“Joe Biden has spoken his mind his entire life, which voters know and love about him,” said Kate Bedingfield, Biden’s communications director and deputy campaign manager, in an interview with the New York Times.
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“He’s a real person, he’s authentic and that will never change,” she told the paper.
Campaign advisers and allies insist that despite what some people say, it is not Biden’s age that’s causing him to slip up — it’s just in his nature.
“Joe’s always been gaffe-prone,” said Rev. Joseph Darby, a longtime supporter from South Carolina.
“It’s just a piece of who he is,” Darby told the Times. “He made a bunch of them last week but I don’t think it affects his capacity to govern…He is as sharp as he’s been.”
Biden’s camp has referred to the “so-called gaffes” — which included bungling the locations of the El Paso and Dayton mass shootings, just days after claiming that “poor kids” were as “just as bright” and “talented” as “white kids” — as a “press narrative, not a voter narrative.”
“If you were to look at the coverage in Iowa this weekend and juxtapose the local newspapers and local television coverage to national media coverage, you would have thought these reporters were at two different events,” said Biden campaign senior adviser Symone Sanders during a Monday appearance on CNN.
“Is it also incumbent on the vice president to do his best, to do better at how he speaks?” asked CNN anchor Brianna Keilar, noting the criticism that President Trump has received from Democrats over his rhetoric.
“If you put a camera in somebody’s face and a microphone on them, you follow them around 100 days, any one of us, I’m pretty sure we would be caught with a slip of the tongue. We would be caught making a mistake,” Sanders said. “The difference is Vice President Biden every single time has immediately corrected himself. … Our campaign’s point is this isn’t registering with the American people.”
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Despite Sanders’ claims, public polling numbers reported by the Times show that Biden’s lead has decreased in Iowa — where the “poor kids” slip-up was made, along with several others. But his supporters apparently don’t care.
“You’re running against Donald Trump, for chrissake,” said Darby. “Donald Trump has had his own share of gaffes, numerous gaffes, on top of falsehoods, on top of bigoted insults.”
Former Govs. Tom Vilsack and Ed Rendell, of Iowa and Pennsylvania, believe the verbal missteps will only fuel support for Biden.
“Voters can identify with a guy who occasionally makes a mistake because they know where his heart is,” said Vilsack, one of Biden’s longtime friends.
“The American people don’t look at these things with as much obsession, as much overemphasis, as much importance as we do,” Rendell added. “They know who Joe Biden is. For better or worse, they know who Joe Biden is, they know who Bernie Sanders is, and they sure as hell know who Donald Trump is.”
Texas Rep. Filemon Vela, another Biden ally, also thinks the gaffes will work out in his favor.
“Letting Joe be Joe is the way to go, meeting people one-on-one and not in two-second sound bites is going to impress people,” he said. “Getting Joe Biden to meet people is the best thing for the Joe Biden campaign.”