After Mitt Romney named Wisconsin congressman Paul Ryan as his running mate, the media declared with a sigh that finally, we can have a serious debate about the issues—none of this “attack and distract” nonsense.
So naturally, the big political story this week is about Vice President Joe Biden’s latest verbal gaffe.
On Tuesday, Biden told an audience in Virginia that the big banks, which Romney has promised to “unshackle” from regulations, are “gonna put y’all back in chains.” It’s been pointed out that at least half of the audience was African-American, so the vice president must’ve been evoking images of slavery.
Biden’s PR handlers claim he misspoke and had intended to say “unshackle.”
Either way, Republican pundits had a hissy fit, with former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani calling the vice president “dumb
” and others—among them Sarah Palin
—insisting Biden is unfit for the job.
It seems the GOP has seized upon a tactic of building up their vice presidential hopeful by knocking down the current second-in-command. Plus, the Romney campaign is focusing the media’s attention on Biden’s tendency to commit a gaffe, as opposed to Romney
and his communication team’s gaffe-prone ways
If that’s the case, they needn’t look far for material. Biden has a track-record of verbal gaffes, some harmless and amusing, others insulting and racist. Here we offer 10 of them, in chronological order, ending with a misspeak from Wednesday.
1. He’s joking, right?
In 2006, a microphone caught then Senator Joe Biden saying
: “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.” Biden added: “I’m not joking.”
2. The first African-America who is … what?
In the nascent days of the 2008 president election—when Biden still had his hat in the ring—the senator from Delaware made this infamous observation about his fellow candidate, Sen. Barack Obama. “I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy. I mean, that’s a storybook man.” That remark helped sink any chance he had of leading the ticket for the Democrats.
3. President Obama: Superhero?
Perhaps this should have been a sign of things to come. When then candidate Obama introduced Biden as his running mate in 2008, he nearly referred to him as the next president of the United States. Not to be outdone, Biden said after his introduction
: “A man I'm proud to call my friend. A man who will be the next President of the United States—Barack America!”
4. Stand up, man in wheelchair.
As vice presidential candidate Joe Biden, the senator from Delaware urged a paraplegic state senator from Missouri to stand up
. “Chuck, stand up, let the people see you," he shouted to Chuck Graham. Then he realized that Graham was in a wheelchair. “Oh, God love ya,” Biden said. “What am I talking about?”
5. The danger of four-letter words.
Also on the campaign trail in 2008, Biden told an audience in Ohio: “The number one job facing the middle class and it happens to be, as Barack says, a three-letter word: J-O-B-S, jobs.” At least the crowd seemed to like it.
6. Hot mic! Hot mic!
The gaffes didn’t stop once he made it to the White House. At the signing ceremony for President Obama’s landmark healthcare bill, a microphone caught Biden telling the president, “This is a big fucking deal
7. Worst. Accent. Ever?
Turns out, the 2006 remark about Indian-Americans wasn’t the vice president’s first attempt at insulting this ethnicity. During a January speech in New Hampshire, Biden began discussing call center jobs when he seemed to take on an Indian accent. The New York Times
said at the time that the accent was so bad, it sounded as if he was impersonating a Russian. You be the judge:
8. I’m a pepper … she’s a pepper?
During a speech in Davenport, Iowa, in March, Biden leveled attacks at Romney and his economic policies. But his point may have been lost when he referred to Scott Community College President Dr. Theresa Paper as … “Dr. Pepper
9. We’re talking about foreign policy, right?
In April, Biden was speaking to New York University students when he cited the famous Theodore Roosevelt saying, “Speak softly and carry a big stick,” in reference to President Obama’s foreign policy. To stress that point, the vice president added: “I promise you, the President has a big stick. I promise you.”
10. B-b-b-back in time.
On the campaign trail on Wednesday, Vice President Biden—still under heat for his “chains” remark—had another verbal slip
. “Once again, General Motors is the largest automobile maker in the world,” he told a crowd in Virginia. “Folks, where’s it written we cannot lead the world in the 20th century in making automobiles? I’ve not seen it written anywhere.”