Joe Biden's Biggest Gaffes in His 2020 Campaign

In 2018, former Vice President Joe Biden called himself a "gaffe machine," and at Tuesday night's Democratic debate, he didn't disappoint—although with his more or less forgettable performance, he exited the stage largely unscathed.

The former vice president occasionally stumbled and at one point contradicted himself. When he was asked about the Obama administration using military force without congressional approval, he said: "No, there was the Authorization for the use of military force that was passed by the United States Congress, House and Senate, and signed by the president; that was the authority," he said. "It does not give authority to go into Iran. It gave authority to deal with these other issues." And when South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg said the authorization needed to be replaced, Biden said: "Exactly. We tried that."

Tuesday's performance may have been a quiet one, but since announcing his campaign for the presidency last April, Biden has delivered his fair share of gaffes and has also publicly defended his words.

"But here's the deal, any gaffe that I have made, and I've made gaffes like every politician I know has, have been not about a substantive issue," he said to Stephen Colbert on his show last September.

Here are some of Biden's standout comments from the former vice president's campaign since he announced his run last Spring.

False War Story

In August 2019, Biden shared a heroic story with a New Hampshire audience about him going to the Konar province in Afghanistan. He said that a four-star general asked him to make the trip to recognize a Navy captain's heroism. Biden said the captain tried to refuse a Silver Star, because he felt like a failure. The Washington Post debunked most of Biden's story, writing that the time period, location, heroic act, type of medal, military branch, and recipient's rank were incorrect.

The Post did note that in 2011, Biden pinned a medal on Army Staff Sgt. Chad Workman, who didn't feel he deserved the award.

In an interview with NPR, the former vice president said the error "has nothing to do with judgment of whether or not you send troops to war, the judgment of whether you bring someone home, the judgment of whether you decide on a health care policy." He also said that "the details are irrelevant in terms of decision-making."

During a September interview with Stephen Colbert, Biden reiterated that "the essence of it is absolutely true." When Colbert mentioned his comments to NPR about the details of his story, Biden said that "those details are irrelevant, when the point I was making was absolutely accurate." Colbert pressed Biden on the details, saying "some details are relevant 'cause that's where the devil lives is in the details," Biden responded: "The devil lives in the details, if the details that you're talking about, would affect the outcome of something that is about to happen or should happen."

A Republican Running Mate

During a New Hampshire campaign event in December, Biden said that he would consider a Republican running mate. Biden said he anticipated getting "clobbered by the press" after he answered a woman who asked if Biden would consider a Republican running mate. "The answer is, I would, but I can't think of one now," Biden said, in a clip from CNN.

Many Twitter users criticized Biden's remark. "If u still support Biden after he said he would consider a Republican VP, I have no words...this is insanity," author Tim Wise wrote. "It is based on ignorance about what motivates voters and why they voted for Trump. It was NOT for bipartisanship. They will not reward you for this Joe... retire now."

Against Legalizing Weed

During a Las Vegas town hall in November, the former vice president said he would not legalize marijuana nationwide, without further research. "The truth of the matter is, there's not nearly been enough evidence that has been acquired as to whether or not it is a gateway drug," he said, according to Business Insider.

Biden's remarks led to criticism from other Democrats. "Marijuana should be legalized, and drug consumption should be decriminalized. These are matters of public health," congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tweeted, hours after his remark.

During the November debate, Senator Cory Booker teased Biden when he said he thought Biden "might have been high when [he] said it." "Marijuana in our country is already legal for privileged people, and the war on drugs has been a war on black and brown people," he said.

Miners, Learn to Code

During a December campaign event, Biden spoke about plans for "jobs of the future." He suggested that coal miners could learn to program if mining jobs are lost. "Anybody who can go down 300 to 3,000 feet in a mine, sure in hell can learn to program as well," he said. "Anybody who can throw coal into a furnace can learn how to program for god's sake," he said later.

American Coal Council CEO Betsy Monseu called the former vice president's comments "disappointing." "They demonstrate a lack of appreciation for the serious issue of the loss of coal jobs, something the industry has already been contending with. They also fail to recognize that coal industry professionals generally want to keep the jobs they have, just like Americans working in other industries," she said.

Requiring Undocumented Immigrants to Learn English

Trump campaign Deputy Director of Communications Zach Parkinson shared a clip of Biden on Twitter in early January. In the clip, Biden speaks about plans to create a "pathway for citizenship for the 11 million undocumented " in the U.S., but Biden also said that "like every other person who's come here, they have to pass, they have to learn how to speak English, they have to demonstrate they pay their taxes... But it's a pathway."

"My parents have worked over the past 19 years, paid their taxes, and given back to their community. They're in their late 50's and are integral to the fabric of Florida," immigration rights advocate Juan Escalante tweeted. "You're going to deny them citizenship over a language requirement should they come out of the shadows?"

A Biden campaign official told Politico journalist Alex Thompson that "The verbal portion of the naturalization exam is administered in English (except for in very select cases) and our plan offers English language education support."

Wrong Campaign Site

At the end of the July debate, Biden encouraged voters to "go to Joe3-0-3-3-0" if they agreed with them. Both "Joe 30330" and "Joe 3030" trended, revealing that both Joe30330.com and Joe3030.com both supported Biden's opponent South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg.

Biden
Democratic presidential candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the Trump administration's recent actions in Iraq on January 07, 2020 in New York City. Spencer Platt/Getty
Joe Biden's Biggest Gaffes in His 2020 Campaign | U.S.