Joe Biden said he was vice president when the deadly high school shooting in Parkland, Florida, took place. Except, it happened in 2018, more than a year after he left office — the latest gaffe by the Democratic presidential front-runner.
Biden told reporters in Iowa on Saturday that “those kids in Parkland came up to see me when I was vice president.” But when they visited Capitol Hill to talk with members of Congress, lawmakers were “basically cowering, not wanting to see them. They did not want to face it on camera.”
The former vice president was making a point about the changing conversation around gun violence in this country, and how as more and more ordinary people are touched by mass shootings, they are more likely to call for action.
An official with the Biden campaign said the former vice president was thinking of the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, when he misspoke. That attack, in which 20 children between six and seven years old were killed along with six staff members, was in December 2012.
Survivors of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida, made national headlines for their demonstrations and calls for action, including visits by some students to the nation’s capital. The shooting, the deadliest high school killing spree in U.S. history, occurred on Feb. 14, 2018, and left 17 dead and injured more than a dozen others. The assailant was an expelled student.
Biden, along with former Representative Gabrielle Giffords, an Arizona Democrat who was shot in the head during an event with constituents in Tucson in 2011, met with Stoneman students in Washington days after the 2018 incident.
The statement was the latest in a string of gaffes that have plagued Biden on the campaign trail. On Thursday, Biden, 76, told a group of Asian and Hispanic voters that “poor kids are just as bright” as white children. And last week he referred to mass shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio, as having taken place in Houston and Michigan.
In both cases he quickly caught himself. And on Saturday Biden told reporters he misspoke on his “poor kids” comment but said that overall, people understood the point he was trying to make.
“I don’t think anybody thinks I meant anything other than what I said I meant,” Biden said.
President Donald Trump, who’s spending the weekend at his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, was quick to seize on Biden’s blunder. He said on Twitter that the former vice president “doesn’t have a clue.”