Biden calls out late Congressman Jackie Walorski at White House hunger event : NPR


Congressman Jackie Walorski (R-IN) sits between Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) and Sen. Todd Young (R-IN) during a meeting between President Donald Trump and members of Congress on February 13, 2018.

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Congressman Jackie Walorski (R-IN) sits between Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) and Sen. Todd Young (R-IN) during a meeting between President Donald Trump and members of Congress on February 13, 2018.

Alex Wong/Getty Images

President Joe Biden mistakenly invoked the late Congressman Jackie Walorski, the Indiana Republican who died in a car crash in August, while delivering opening remarks at a White House conference on hunger, nutrition and health.

Walorski was one of four sponsors of a funding bill at the conference and has been an advocate for reducing hunger in America.

“Jackie, are you here? Where’s Jackie,” he said, looking at the audience. “She would be here.”

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In August, Biden and first lady Jill Biden issued a statement expressing their condolences following Walorski’s death.

“I appreciate her partnership as we plan a historic White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition and Health this fall, one that will be marked by her deep concern for the needs of rural America,” Biden said in a statement in August. “We send our deepest condolences to her husband, Dean, to the families of her staff members, Zachery Potts and Emma Thomson, who lost their lives in public service, and to the people of Indiana’s Second District, who lost a representative who was one of their own.”

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The White House also flew flags at half-staff in memory of Walorski and her aides, who were also killed.

Condolences for Walorski, who was a member of the Home Hunger Caucus, were expressed at the event by Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA) in remarks following Biden’s speech. And White House policy adviser Susan Rice said she “of course” misses Walorski, “who passed away in August,” at the start of a panel session with lawmakers following the president’s remarks.

Biden has a history of making gaffes

Biden has previously called himself a “blunder machine” — a nod to his long history of verbal missteps.

As president, Biden made a number of blunders. For example, a year ago he forgot the name of Scott Morrison, then Prime Minister of Australia, while talking to him during a video conference about a new defense partnership, referring to him as “the one down under”.

Critics question whether his age is a hindrance to Biden, the oldest person to hold the office. In an interview this month with 60 minutesBiden said people should look not at his age, but at the work he’s done.

“I think it has to do with how much energy you have and whether or not the work you’re doing matches what any person of any age could do,” he said.

“There’s nothing I’m not doing now that I’ve done before, whether it’s physical, mental or anything else,” Biden said. When interviewer Scott Pelley noted the string of legislative successes, he quipped, “How did an old guy do it?”

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