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President Joe Biden mistakenly called for the late Rep. Jackie Walorski, the Indiana Republican who died in a car accident in August, while making opening remarks at a White House conference on hunger, nutrition and health.
Walorski was one of four co-sponsors of a bill to fund the conference and had campaigned to reduce hunger in America.
“Jackie, are you here? Where’s Jackie?” he said, looking at the audience. “She wanted to be here.”
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
In August, Biden and First Lady Jill Biden issued a statement expressing their condolences following Walorski’s death.
“I value their partnership as we plan a historic White House conference on hunger, nutrition and health this fall that will be marked by their deep concern for the needs of rural America,” Biden said in an August statement. “We extend our deepest condolences to her husband Dean, the families of her employees Zachery Potts and Emma Thomson who lost their lives in public service, and the people of Indiana’s 2nd Circuit who lost a representative of their own.”
The White House also raised flags at half-mast in memory of Walorski and her aides, who were also killed.
Condolences for Walorski, who had been a member of the House Hunger Caucus, were offered during the event by Rep. Jim McGovern (DMA) in remarks following Biden’s speech. And White House policy adviser Susan Rice said she “of course misses” Walorski, “who passed away in August,” at the start of a panel with lawmakers after the president’s remarks.
Biden has a history of making gaffes
Biden has previously referred to himself as a “gaffe machine” — a nod to his long history of verbal missteps.
As president, Biden has committed a series of gaffes. For example, a year ago he forgot the name of Scott Morrison, then Prime Minister of Australia, when he addressed him during a video conference call about a new defense partnership, calling him “that guy from Down Under”.
Critics have questioned whether his age is an impediment to Biden, the oldest person in office. In an interview this month with 60 minutesBiden said people shouldn’t look at his age, but at the work he does.
“I think it depends on how much energy you have and whether the work you’re doing is consistent with what any person of any age could do,” he said.
“There aren’t things I’m not doing now that I’ve done before, whether it’s physical or mental or anything else,” Biden said. When interviewer Scott Pelley noted his string of legislative successes, he joked, “How did an old man do that?”