‘I Am A Gaffe Machine’: 30 Joe Biden Quotes That Prove Him Right

Published September 24, 2020
Updated June 24, 2021

From the unseemly to the clumsy to the straight-out racist, these Joe Biden quotes will have you seeing Amtrak Joe in another light.

Joe Biden About Poor Kids
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‘I Am A Gaffe Machine’: 30 Joe Biden Quotes That Prove Him Right
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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.

Not only did he describe Delaware's school desegregation plans as "the most racist concept you can come up with" in 1975, he also criticized President George H.W. Bush for being soft on "violent thugs" in 1989. He often implied that he didn't care what motivated criminals; he just wanted them taken off the street.

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."

After taking a look at these shocking and bizarre Joe Biden quotes, check out Donald Trump quotes you have to read to believe. Then read 25 George Orwell quotes on power, politics, and the future of mankind.

Marco Margaritoff
A former staff writer for All That’s Interesting, Marco Margaritoff holds dual Bachelor's degrees from Pace University and a Master's in journalism from New York University. He has published work at People, VICE, Complex, and serves as a staff reporter at HuffPost.
Jaclyn Anglis
Jaclyn is the senior managing editor at All That's Interesting. She holds a Master's degree in journalism from the City University of New York and a Bachelor's degree in English writing and history (double major) from DePauw University. She is interested in American history, true crime, modern history, pop culture, and science.
Cite This Article
Margaritoff, Marco. "‘I Am A Gaffe Machine’: 30 Joe Biden Quotes That Prove Him Right." AllThatsInteresting.com, September 24, 2020, https://allthatsinteresting.com/joe-biden-quotes. Accessed April 19, 2024.