DES MOINES, Iowa — Joe Biden twice on Saturday said he met with students who survived the mass shooting in Parkland, Florida, when he was vice president. But the Parkland shooting took place in February 2018, a little more than a year after Biden left office.
The Democratic presidential hopeful — who has acknowledged he is a “gaffe machine” — has a reputation for making misstatements on the campaign trail. His latest campaign gaffes came at a gun control forum in Des Moines, Iowa, when he described meeting survivors of the shooting that left 17 dead when they visited Washington to lobby for stricter gun laws.
“I met with them and then they went off up on the Hill when I was vice president,” Biden said at the forum. The former vice president made the same error later that day when he told reporters, “Those kids in Parkland came up to see me when I was vice president,” while describing members of Congress ducking meetings with the students.
Biden did meet with a group of Parkland survivors in 2018, but he did so after he left office. Another mass shooting — in 2012 at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut — took place while Biden served as vice president.
A spokeswoman for Biden, Kate Bedingfield, on Sunday tweeted a link to a story about Biden meeting with the Parkland students in 2018, writing: “Wouldn’t it be nice to have a president who consoles Americans in their time of need so often that he sometimes mistakes the timing? But even more so, wouldn’t it be nice to have a president who will actually fight to prevent these tragedies?”
The verbal stumble wasn’t Biden’s only misstep in Iowa, where a recent poll shows he maintains a lead over the rest of the Democratic field. Days prior, Biden said “poor kids are just as bright and just as talented as white kids” — which his campaign noted was an error he immediately corrected.
He was speaking to a group of Hispanic and Asian voters in Iowa on Thursday when he said: “We have this notion that somehow if you’re poor you cannot do it. Poor kids are just as bright and just as talented as white kids — wealthy kids, black kids, Asian kids. No, I really mean it, but think how we think about it.”
“They can do anything that anybody else can do, given a shot,” Biden later added. On Saturday, Biden told reporters that people understood what he’d meant.
Last week in Iowa, Biden also appeared to initially confuse former British prime ministers Margaret Thatcher and Theresa May during a speech in which he recounted the international backlash to President Donald Trump’s reaction to the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia. May was prime minister at the time, but while Biden appeared to immediately realize his mistake, he did not go on to name May.
And during his soapbox speech at the Iowa State Fair, Biden also bungled his “we choose truth over lies” line, and said instead: “We choose truth over facts.”