October 20, 2019

Biden's Biggest Gaffe

“Just to be sure I heard it correctly, I replayed former vice president Joe Biden’s eye-popping gaffe from Thursday night’s debate instructing poor parents to put the record player on to help their children learn. “#Record player” was trending on Twitter by the time I took to the airwaves at 6 a.m. Friday, so my suspicion had already been confirmed: This was more than a gaffe that causes eye rolls. It was one of those gaffes that underscores a candidate’s central weakness and continues to bleed away votes long after its utterance.

Recall Sen. John F. Kerry’s “I actually did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it,” or then-President Gerald Ford’s famous “There is no Soviet domination of Eastern Europe” from a 1976 debate. Gaffes are like sharks. Some are sand sharks that scare you. Others are Jaws-like beasts. After Thursday night, Biden is going to need a bigger boat.

Because it will haunt Biden’s campaign, let’s be sure to get the question and answer down in full, for context’s sake.

Moderator Linsey Davis asked Biden, 76: “In a conversation about how to deal with segregation in schools back in 1975, you told a reporter, ‘I don’t feel responsible for the sins of my father and grandfather. I feel responsible for what the situation is today, for the sins of my own generation, and I’ll be damned if I feel responsible to pay for what happened 300 years ago.’”

“You said that some 40 years ago,” Davis continued. “But as you stand here tonight, what responsibility do you think that Americans need to take to repair the legacy of slavery in our country?””

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