Former Vice President Joe Biden’s campaign says he misspoke when he told a group of Hispanic and Asian voters in Iowa on Thursday that “poor kids are just as bright and just as talented as white kids” before he attempted to correct himself.
Biden, who’s been on a campaign swing through Iowa, was speaking on education at a town hall hosted by the Asian and Latino Coalition in Des Moines, Iowa.
“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,” he said.
“They can do anything that anybody else can do, given a shot,” he added later.
Biden’s verbal slip up comes as he is campaigning in Iowa during the state fair weekend, where a recent poll shows he still maintains a lead over the rest of the field. Biden has a reputation for making misstatements on the trail and has even called himself “a gaffe machine.”
“I am a gaffe machine, but my God what a wonderful thing compared to a guy who can’t tell the truth,” Biden said in December, in reference to President Donald Trump.
Trump’s reelection campaign seized on Biden’s comments on Thursday. Andrew Clark, the rapid response director for the Trump 2020 campaign, tweeted an edited video of Biden’s comments.
“Yikes…have fun mitigating that one,” Clark wrote.
Biden’s campaign said the former vice president “misspoke and immediately corrected himself” and drew a contrast between Biden’s comments and Trump’s past rhetoric on race.
“Joe Biden has spent his life fighting for civil rights and the dignity of all people. The Trump campaign posting the video without the Vice President’s immediate correction is patently disingenuous — and it’s no coincidence this comes days after Joe Biden laid out how this president emboldens white nationalism and embraces racism,” deputy campaign manager Kate Bedingfield said in a statement.
Democratic presidential hopeful Andrew Yang, the only Asian-American man in the race, defended Biden, saying he was “trying to convey a message and it came out the wrong way.”
“The fact is there are many, many poor kids in this country who are underrepresented minorities, kids of color,” Yang told CNN’s John Berman on “New Day” Friday. “And it’s Joe just trying to express an idea that came out the wrong way.”
It wasn’t the only misstep of Biden’s time in Iowa. He also accidentally referred to German Chancellor Angela Merkel as former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher before correcting himself. And during his soapbox speech at the Iowa State Fair, Biden flubbed his “we choose truth over lies” line — instead saying, “We choose truth over facts.”