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"We should challenge students in these schools. We have this notion that somehow if you're poor, you cannot do it. Poor kids are just as bright and just as talented as white kids."Wikimedia Commons
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In 2007, Biden said this about his then-presidential opponent, Barack Obama: "I mean you've got the first sort of mainstream African American, who is articulate and bright, and clean and a nice-looking guy. I mean, that's a storybook, man."National Archives
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When talking about working at a pool in his early 20s, Biden made a wild claim that he personally fended off a gang leader who was causing trouble: "Corn Pop was a bad dude, and he ran a bunch of bad boys... And so he was up on the board and wouldn't listen to me. I said, 'Hey, Esther, you! Off the board, or I’ll come up and drag you off.' Well, he came off and he said, 'I’ll meet you outside.'"
"My car... this was mostly, these were all public housing behind you. My car – there was a gate on here. I parked my car outside the gate. And I – and he said, 'I'll be waiting for you.' He was waiting for me with three guys with straight razors. Not a joke."Flickr/Gage Skidmore
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As the sponsor of a Senate bill to outlaw busing on the federal level, Biden warned during a Congressional session in 1977: "Unless we do something about this, my children are going to grow up in a jungle, the jungle being a racial jungle with tensions having built so high that it is going to explode at some point."YouTube
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"We have to hold every drug user accountable because if there are no drug users there'd be no appetite for drugs. There'd be no market for them."Wikimedia Commons
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"I've had a great relationship [with Indians]. In Delaware, the largest growth in population is Indian-Americans moving from India. You cannot go to a 7-Eleven or a Dunkin' Donuts unless you have a slight Indian accent. I'm not joking."Wikimedia Commons
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"Now is the time to heed the timeless advice from Teddy Roosevelt: 'Speak softly and carry a big stick.' I promise you – the president has a big stick. I promise you."Wikimedia Commons
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While attempting to quote the Declaration of Independence in 2020, Biden said this: "We hold these truths to be self-evident. All men and women are created, by the, you know, you know, the thing."Wikimedia Commons
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While bragging about a 1992 crime bill and its harsh penalties, Biden said, "Let me tell you what is in the bill and I'll let you all decide whether or not this is weak. Let me get down here at the compendium of the things that are in the bill. One: the death penalty. It provides 53 death penalty offenses. Weak as can be, you know? We do everything but hang people for jaywalking in this bill. Weak stuff."Joe Biden
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At his first rally as Barack Obama's running mate in 2008, Biden introduced the future president: "This election year, the choice is clear. One man stands to deliver change we desperately need. A man I'm proud to call my friend. A man who will be the next president of the United States — Barack America!"National Archives
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While trying to salvage his 1987 presidential campaign, Biden said, "During the '60s, I was in fact very concerned about the civil rights movement. I was not an activist. I worked at an all-Black swimming pool in the east side of Wilmington, Delaware. I was involved. I was involved in what they were thinking, what they were feeling. I was involved, but I was not out marching. I was not down in Selma, I was not anywhere else."Mark Reinstein/Corbis/Getty Images
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In 2006, when discussing the possibility of becoming president, Biden said, "I'd rather be at home making love to my wife while my children are asleep."Wikimedia Commons
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In 2020, when talking about the COVID-19 pandemic, Biden said, "We have to take care of the cure. That will make the problem worse, no matter what. No matter what. We know what has to be done."Wikimedia Commons
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During an interview with a Black radio host discussing the 2020 election, Biden said, "Well I tell you what, if you have a problem figuring out whether you're for me or Trump, then you ain't Black. Take a look at my record, man!"National Archives
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In 2006, Biden argued that a fence was necessary at the U.S.-Mexico border: "And let me tell you something, folks, people are driving across that border with tons, tons, hear me, tons of everything from byproducts for methamphetamine to cocaine to heroin and it's all coming up through corrupt Mexico."Library of Congress
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"I never had an interest in being a mayor 'cause that's a real job. You have to produce. That's why I was able to be a senator for 36 years." Terry Ashe/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images
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"Folks, I can tell you I've known eight presidents, three of them intimately."Bettmann/Getty Images
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"The younger generation now tells me how tough things are. Give me a break!"Facebook
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In 2007, during his presidential bid, Biden said, "I spent last summer going through the Black sections of my town, holding rallies in parks, trying to get Black men to understand it is not unmanly to wear a condom, getting women to understand they can say no, getting people in the position where testing matters. I got tested for AIDS. I know Barack got tested for AIDS."Wikimedia Commons
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In 2008, Biden mixed up Depression history during an interview with Katie Couric: "When the stock market crashed, Franklin Roosevelt got on the television and he didn't just talk about the princes of greed. He said, 'Look, here's what happened.'" (In 1929, Herbert Hoover was president and TV was still in its experimental stages.)Bettmann/Getty Images
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While discussing his experience working at a pool in his younger days, Biden once said, "And by the way, you know, I'd sit on the stand and it'd get hot. I got hairy legs that turn blonde in the sun. The kids used to come up and reach into the pool and rub my leg down so it was straight and watch the hair come back up again. They'd look at it. So I learned about roaches and I learned about kids jumping on my lap. And I loved kids jumping on my lap."Wikimedia Commons
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"My mother believed and my father believed that if I wanted to be President of the United States, I could be, I could be... Vice President!"Facebook
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In 2008, while recounting his helicopter being forced down (by a snowstorm) in Afghanistan, Biden said: "If you want to know where Al Qaeda lives, you want to know where Bin Laden is, come back to Afghanistan with me. Come back to the area where my helicopter was forced down, with a three-star general and three senators at 10,500 feet in the middle of those mountains. I can tell you where they are." National Archives
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In 1991, Biden touted work he did with infamous segregationist Strom Thurmond: "If you have a piece of crack cocaine no bigger than this quarter that I am holding in my hand…we passed a law through the leadership of Senator Thurmond and myself and others – we passed a law that said you go to jail for five years. You get no probation. You get nothing other than five years in jail. Judge doesn't have a choice."Joe Biden
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In response to some women saying his actions made them uncomfortable, Biden said this in 2019: "I'm sorry I didn't understand more. I'm not sorry for any of my intentions. I'm not sorry for anything that I have ever done. I have never been disrespectful intentionally to a man or a woman. So that's not the reputation that I've had since high school, for God's sake."Jamie Howren/CQ Roll/Getty Images
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In 2019, Biden lashed out at an undecided voter after he brought up the presidential hopeful's age and accused him of "sending" his son to Ukraine "in order to get access for the president." Biden responded: "You're a damn liar, man. That's not true, and no one has ever said that. You see it on the TV, I know you do. And by the way, that's why I'm not sedentary. I get up and..."
"Look, the reason I'm running is because I've been around a long time and I know more than most people. And I can get things done. That's why I'm running. And you wanna check my shape, let's do push-ups together, man. Let's run, let's do whatever you wanna do. Let's take an IQ test. Look, fat, look. Here's the deal. Any other questions?"Wikimedia Commons
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In a 1975 interview with a Delaware newspaper, Biden explained why he believed the government should have a limited role in desegregating schools: "We've lost our bearings since the 1954 Brown vs. School Board desegregation case. To 'desegregate' is different than to 'integrate...' The new integration plans being offered are really just quota-systems to assure a certain number of Blacks, Chicanos, or whatever in each school. That, to me, is the most racist concept you can come up with."
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In 1975, Biden referenced an infamous segregationist in a favorable light: "I think the Democratic Party could stand a liberal George Wallace — someone who's not afraid to stand up and offend people, someone who wouldn't pander but would say what the American people know in their gut is right."Howard L. Sachs/CNP/Getty Images
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In a 1993 speech that pushed for a crime bill to target "predators on our streets," Biden said, "It doesn't matter whether or not they had no background that enabled them to become socialized into the fabric of society. It doesn't matter whether or not they are the victims of society. The end result is they are about to knock my mother on the head with a lead pipe, shoot my sister, beat up my wife, take on my sons."Facebook
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Speaking to wealthy donors in New York in 2019, Biden said, "I mean, we may not want to demonize anybody who has made money. The truth of the matter is, you all know in your gut what has to be done. We can disagree in the margins but the truth of the matter is it's all within our wheelhouse and nobody has to be punished. No one's standard of living will change, nothing would fundamentally change."Facebook
‘I Am A Gaffe Machine’: 30 Joe Biden Quotes That Prove Him Right
Joe Biden's history of bizarre gaffes and shocking statements is as storied as his lengthy political career. During his 36 years in the Senate, his two vice presidential terms, and his fraught campaigns as a commander-in-chief hopeful, Biden has always been a self-admitted "gaffe machine."
Biden grew up with a stutter that he eventually overcame, but some have speculated that his foot-in-mouth moments are temporary relapses back into his speech disorder. This theory has been met with some skepticism since many of his offensive statements made decades ago were expressed with a limber, even elegant tongue.
While mistaking New Hampshire for Vermont was almost certainly the result of campaign trail exhaustion, expressing fear that his children would grow up "in a racial jungle" was not. These 30 Joe Biden quotes trace his history of verbal blunderings — from the funny to the cringeworthy.
Joe Biden: The Early Years
Born Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. on Nov. 20, 1942 in Scranton, Pennsylvania, the future politician developed a stutter in childhood that continues to occasionally rear its head to this day. While Biden can't remember specifically when his stuttering began, it was still causing him trouble by the time he enrolled as an undergrad at the University of Delaware.
Reflecting on his experience, Biden said, "Stuttering gave me an insight I don't think I ever would have had into other people's pain."
Biden committed himself to tamping down his stutters, and by the time he'd received his law degree from the Syracuse University College of Law in 1968, they had slowly started to fade away. But after he was elected to the Senate in 1972, he said many problematic things that were unrelated to any stutter.
An Axios interview with Joe Biden about his verbal missteps and childhood stutter.
Biden courted Southern segregationist Senator James O. Eastland, who helped him land spots on the committees dealing with criminal justice and prisons. As early as 1977, Biden rallied for mandatory minimum sentences that would limit judges' discretion in sentencing criminals — with support from Eastland. In the meantime, Biden also became a legislative partner — and a close friend — of another segregationist named Strom Thurmond.
Other bills co-authored by Biden added fuel to America's expanding incarceration rate, which hit its peak in 2008 at 2,310,300 prisoners. Despite dwindling in years since then, America is still the leader among large industrialized nations in terms of incarceration.
Though Biden has a liberal reputation today, he spent the majority of his political career opposed to abortion, gay rights, and even integration. During a Congressional hearing on school busing in 1977, Biden warned of a future where his children would be forced into a "racial jungle."
The presidential hopeful has reversed his stance on some of these issues in recent years. From changing his position on mandatory minimums to stating that nobody should be in jail for marijuana, Joe Biden's quotes from the past don't necessarily reflect the positions he espouses today.
Nonetheless, the roster of confounding Joe Biden quotes has only grown over time.
Joe Biden Quotes From The White House
CNN chronicling Joe Biden's gaffes as vice president in 2015.
"I mean, you got the first mainstream African American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy," Biden once said of former President Barack Obama. "I mean, that's a storybook, man."
Oddly enough, this blunder happened in 2007 while Biden himself was running against Obama for the Democratic presidential nomination. He tried to rectify his inaccurate claim on The Daily Show, saying that he should've said "fresh" instead of "clean" — before digging himself into a deeper hole.
"What I meant was that he's got new ideas, he's a new guy on the block," he explained, while staring at host Jon Stewart's deadpan expression. "It's not working, right?"
Even though Obama ultimately chose Biden to be his vice president, his important role certainly didn't stop him from embarrassing himself in public. At a 2010 St. Patrick's Day reception for Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen, Biden mistakenly gave the man his condolences for losing the wrong parent.
"His mom lived in Long Island for 10 years or so, God rest her soul," he said. "Although she's, wait... Your mom's still alive. It was your dad that passed. God bless her soul. I gotta get this straight."
The Biden Blunders Continue
A series of Joe Biden blunders during MSNBC's 2019 Democratic presidential debate.
Joe Biden has seemingly said and done everything during his nearly 50-year-long career in politics, from introducing President Obama as "Barack America" to claiming that he personally fended off a gang leader and a "bad dude" named Corn Pop in his early 20s — without any help from police.
But for all his blunders, both Biden and his supporters believe that his gaffes are dwarfed by those of his presidential opponent, Donald Trump.
"I am a gaffe machine," Biden said. "But my God what a wonderful thing compared to a guy who can't tell the truth."
A staff writer for All That’s Interesting, Marco Margaritoff has also published work at outlets including People, VICE, and Complex, covering everything from film to finance to technology. He holds dual bachelor's degrees from Pace University and a master's degree from New York University.