- President Joe Biden, 80, made the blunder during a speech in Washington on Thursday at the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute’s 46th Annual Gala
- He had celebrated Sister Norma Pimental, executive director of Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley, for her gala award win before the mistake
- Biden praised her for living the lessons based on the Gospel of Matthew before adding: ‘The Congressional Black Caucus embodies all those values’
President Joe Biden mistakenly praised the ‘Congressional Black Caucus’ during a speech to the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.
The 80-year-old made the blunder during a speech in Washington on Thursday at the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute’s 46th Annual Gala.
He had celebrated Sister Norma Pimental, executive director of Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley, for her gala award win moments before the mistake.
Biden praised her for living the lessons based on the Gospel of Matthew before adding: ‘The Congressional Black Caucus embodies all those values.’
The incident sparks further concern about his age and health after he seemingly wandered off a stage failing to shake hands with Brazil’s president and repeated the same story within minutes at a private fundraising event on Wednesday.
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‘I know Sister Norma lives the lessons nuns taught me growing up,’ Biden said during the speech addressing the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.
‘Lessons based on the Gospel of Matthew: feed the hungry, care for the sick, welcome strangers.’
‘They echo what my dad taught me, and I mean this sincerely, my dad used to say, ‘Everyone, everyone is entitled to be treated with dignity and respect.’
The president added: ‘The Congressional Black Caucus embodies all those values,’ without correcting his mistake.
It comes after Biden bumped into a Brazilian flag on the UN stage on Wednesday and appeared to wander off without shaking the hand of Brazil’s president following a joint speech.
Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, 77, looked visibly irritated after the two leaders shared a stage to speak about their initiative to improve workers’ rights in each country.
Their diplomatic meeting got off to a labored start when Biden, 80, shuffled into a seven-foot Brazilian flag, leaving it teetering as he approached the podium.
The president made a rambling speech about his ‘economic vision to rebuild our economy from the middle out and the bottom up, not the top down’ while Lula watched on from his right flank.
Meanwhile, during Lula’s speech Biden fumbled with his headset, which he was using to hear a translated version.
‘Can you hear me President Biden? This is an historical moment for Brazil, and for the US,’ Lula said at the start of his speech.
‘President Biden can you hear me?’ Lula asked again, appearing to lose patience as Biden grunted in response. ‘You can?’ he asked, turning to Biden. ‘Yes, good.’
Biden continued to look confused as he grappled with the headset while Lula went on with his speech. At one point Biden dropped his earpiece and raised his eyebrows in frustration.
International Labor Organization Director General Gilbert Houngbo took to the podium after the two world leaders, and Biden stooped to slowly grab a folder from the ground.
Houngbo shook hands with Biden and Lula in turn at the close of his speech – but Biden appeared to leave Lula hanging, awkwardly saluting the audience before shuffling off stage.
He appeared to be torn between giving a thumbs-up or a salute, and made a sloppy gesture combining the two.
As Biden turned his back on the Brazilian president, Lula looked annoyed and made a swiping gesture with his arm. They departed awkwardly from opposite sides.
He was also spotted telling the same story twice within a few minutes at a private fundraising event in New York on Wednesday.
It was one the 80-year-old president tells often about how events in Charlottesville, Virginia in 2017, and the reaction of Donald Trump, inspired him to run for the White House.
On Aug 11, 2017 white supremacists and neo-Nazis descended on the city and clashes continued into the following day.
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Biden, who was in New York for the United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday, attended a fundraising gathering hosted by food security expert Amy Goldman Fowler at her home.
According to a White House pool report of the private event he began speaking just after 4pm in a living room in front of about two dozen people.
After briefly talking about his economic record he reflected on his decision to seek the presidency and ‘talked about the events of Charlottesville’ as the reason for his campaign, the report said.
‘A few minutes later, he told the story again, nearly word for word,’ the report went on.
A spokesman for the Republican National Committee, commenting sarcastically on the report, said: ‘This is completely fine.’
Steve Guest, a former spokesman for Republican senator Ted Cruz, added: ‘This is normal…completely normal.’