White House Insists Biden Meant ‘Recession’ When He Said ‘Pandemic’

Elizabeth Frantz/Reuters
Elizabeth Frantz/Reuters

This story has been updated to include an amended transcript from the White House.

President Joe Biden bizarrely claimed on Sunday that he was still serving as vice president during “the pandemic”—though an amended transcript of his remarks distributed by the White House indicated it may have been a simple slip of the tongue, and the president had meant to reference the Great Recession.

Speaking at a dinner for the NAACP in Detroit, Michigan, Biden went on a tangent proclaiming he was on the ground in the state to help out, at the request of former President Barack Obama.

“And when I was vice president, things were kind of bad during the pandemic,” Biden said.

“And what happened was,” Biden continued, “Barack said to me, ‘Go to Detroit, and help fix it.’ Well the poor mayor, he spent more time with me than he thought he was ever going to have to. God love you.”

The White House’s official transcript following the president’s remarks included a strikethrough of the word “pandemic”—instead replacing it with the word “recession.”

Biden was apparently referring to Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, who took office while Biden was still VP back in 2014.

The president has spoken previously about the bond he struck up with Duggan, dating back to a meal they shared in Detroit shortly after the mayor won his 2013 election. Duggan was not in office during the H1N1 outbreak of 2009, and the COVID-19 pandemic did not begin in the U.S. until 2020, when Biden was out of office.

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In the report from Special Counsel Robert Hur, which cleared Biden of any criminal charges over his handling of classified documents, the president also appeared to be confused about when his term in office began and ended.

“In his interview with our office, Mr. Biden’s memory was worse,” Hur said in his report. “He did not remember when he was vice president, forgetting on the first day of the interview when his term ended (‘if it was 2013—when did I stop being Vice President?’), and forgetting on the second day of the interview when his term began (‘in 2009, am I still Vice President?’).”

The Biden campaign did not immediately return a request for comment.

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