Joe Biden’s repeated gaffes force WH to cancel presser with Canada, Mexico leaders

White House does u-turn after Jen Psaki said Biden would host a conference with Justin Trudeau and Andrés Obrador, clean-ups to blame


                            Joe Biden’s repeated gaffes force WH to cancel presser with Canada, Mexico leaders
Joe Biden addresses a joint session of Congress in the U.S. Capitol on April 28, 2021, in Washington, DC (Melina Mara-Pool/Getty Images)

Both Donald Trump and Joe Biden love going off-script, but it appears Biden's team is having a harder time addressing his comments. The repeated clean-up efforts are the reason the White House has scrapped a planned press conference on November 18. Earlier, Press Secretary Jen Psaki confirmed Biden would speak alongside Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, but not it appears that is no longer the case.

Biden's numerous gaffes have quickly turned into a PR nightmare for his team, especially in light of the repeated attacks by the GOP on his agenda and the Democratic Party. In mid-September, he referred to Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison as "that fella down under", after appearing to forget his name. In April, he also mistakenly referred to the Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) bureau as the AFT. The same month, he was widely mocked after commenting "I'm in trouble" when he couldn't find his mask at a Georgia rally.

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The gaffes didn't appear to affect Biden on the campaign trail, but now that he's the President, things are quite different. The White House is forced to clean up every time he makes a smaller error, after months of keeping quiet and facing backlash. The President has also become a popular punching bag, not just amongst conservatives on Fox News, but also on social media. It appears things have gotten so out of hand, the White House has decided to "muzzle" him.

Joe Biden delivers remarks during the annual U.S.-ASEAN Summit via video link from the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on October 26, 2021, in Washington, DC. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

 

Gaffe-machine Biden won't be speaking

In early November, Psaki confirmed Biden would speak to the press following his meeting with Trudeau and López, however just a week later, it appears the White House has had a change of heart. While aboard Air Force One, White House spokesman Chris Meagher told reporters, "He’s going to be holding (meetings) with both of the leaders tomorrow. There will be pool sprays at the top of each of those. And then the North American Leaders Summit, where we’ll have a pool spray at the top of that." 

Pool sprays are photo opportunities for the media, which sometimes tend to feature press questions, but not always. For example, in September, Biden declined to take questions at a spray after meeting British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, while Johnson was happy to answer a few questions. In contrast, a press conference means Biden would have been forced to answer questions from the press, something which the White House is clearly not looking forward to.

U.S. President Joe Biden (R) meets with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson (L) in the Oval Office of the White House on September 21, 2021, in Washington, DC. (Al Drago-Pool/Getty Images)

 

Psaki was forced to walk back her comment, telling reporters, "I know I said that last week… The schedule is constantly changing, so let me just take another fresh look at it." Her reaction could indicate she was unaware of the change in plans, coming at a time when the White House is under immense scrutiny for the lack of press access. Biden has so far given far fewer press conferences than any of his recent predecessors, and there are allegations being floated that the administration pre-screens questions when the President does take questions.

Taiwan, Olympics gaffes to blame

It's unclear what exactly prompted the sudden change in plans, but Bloomberg News reporter Justin Sink theorized it could be the many gaffes Biden made over the past week. "If Jen said that this is going to happen and there’s a long-standing precedent of this happening... is the worry that you don’t want the president taking questions? And if not, I think the best way to satisfy that would be to have the president out there tomorrow," Sink reportedly asked Meagher.

On November 16, Biden hinted he may visit the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, after reports the US would not send a formal delegation. The same day, he said about Taiwan, "It’s independent. It makes its own decisions," in a break with the US' long-standing policy on the region. He was later forced to clarify "We are not encouraging independence," but the damage had already been done. Biden also said he would announce his nominee for the Federal Reserve "in about four days", which Meagher was forced to clarify later as "before Thanksgiving."

Aides to the President have been scrambling to correct him on numerous occasions in the past months, with many of his statements causing confusion and chaos. Amidst the slum in ratings, infighting in Congress, and severe economic hardships, silence from the President will certainly not help the Democrats, especially with the 2022 mid-terms close at hand.

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