WH Plays Damage Control Again After Biden Searches For Late Rep. Walorski adds to list of walk-backs

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The White House was once again placed on the defensive by President Biden on Wednesday after the president’s search for late Representative Jackie Walorski, R-Ind. — whose death he had previously mourned — stunned viewers and reporters.

“The president speaks directly and candidly — straight off the shoulder, as he often says,” White House spokesman Robyn Patterson told Fox News Digital in a statement, when asked about the president’s long track record of saying of things his staff later corrected.

“This has been critical to his success in everything from rallying the world to support Ukraine to empowering Medicare to negotiate lower drug prices,” Patterson added. “And when he feels the need to add context to something he’s said, or direct his staff to do so — as any president does — he doesn’t hesitate to do so.”

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The White House comments came after press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre struggled to explain away his latest blunder. On Wednesday, during the White House conference on hunger, nutrition and health, Biden appeared to be searching for Walorski, who died in a car accident last month.

“I want to thank all of you here, including bipartisan elected officials like… Senator Braun, Senator Booker, Representative… Jackie, Jackie, are you here?” said Biden, looking for the late congressman. “I think she would be here to make this happen.”

The White House told Fox News Digital that they should keep walking back and correcting several of President Biden's comments because he… "speaks directly and candidly - straight from the shoulder, as he often says."

The White House told Fox News Digital that they should keep walking back and correcting several of President Biden’s comments because he “speaks directly and candidly — straight off the shoulder, as he often says.”
(REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY/File Photo)

A video tribute to the late Republican congresswoman was scheduled to play at the event, but was not shown while the president and the White House press attended the event.

After the bizarre episode, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Biden “called the congressional champions on this matter and recognized her incredible work.”

“He was already planning to welcome the congressman’s family to the White House on Friday, a bill in her honor will be signed next Friday,” Jean-Pierre said. “So of course she was on his mind. She was first and foremost for the president.’

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Jean-Pierre doubled the White House cleanup of Biden’s fumble under pressure from reporters.

‘Pandemic is over’

Earlier this month, the White House was also forced to file comments Biden made to CBS News at the Detroit Auto Show about the pandemic.

“The pandemic is over,” the president said during an interview with “60 Minutes” host Scott Pelley at the Detroit auto show. “We still have a problem with COVID. We still have a lot of work to do on it… but the pandemic is over. When you notice that no one is wearing masks, everyone seems to be in pretty good shape.”

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Jean-Pierre later explained that Biden only made those comments because he was “looking around” at the auto show. She noted that the auto show hadn’t taken place in three years.

“What he really meant is that the very serious stage of the pandemic of … 3,000 deaths a day — that stage is no longer there,” Anthony Fauci, the White House’s top medical adviser, told Politico separately. “People shouldn’t be more arrogant that we’re out of the woods.”

‘A Chinese’

Several times during his presidency, Biden has seemingly confused US policy regarding Taiwan.

“Yes, if indeed there has been an unprecedented attack,” Biden said when Pelley asked during the interview this month whether the US would intervene if China invaded Taiwan.

According to the Federal Government’s Center for Strategic and International Studies, which was established in 1979, the US does not recognize Chinese sovereignty over Taiwan. However, the US does recognize the Chinese government’s position that Taiwan is part of China and has never explicitly stated that it would defend the nation from attack.

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“If the president of the United States wants to announce a policy change, he will. He hasn’t,” said Jake Sullivan, the White House’s national security adviser after the CBS News interview, while countering Biden’s comments. .

The president has made similar comments on at least three other occasions that have also led to White House walkbacks.

Ukraine crisis

Amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Biden has also made a series of comments that prompted corrections or clarifications from his White House and government officials.

In May, after Biden said the sanctions imposed on Russia before the invasion were never intended to deter military action, the US ambassador to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization said sanctions were “clearly” intended to deter.

In addition, the White House has reversed several comments the president made during his trip to Europe during the war in April. Biden said Russian President Vladimir Putin “cannot stay in power”, apparently alluding to regime change, called Putin a war criminal in a departure from government policy, suggested US troops be sent to Ukraine and said the US “in kind” would respond if Russia used chemical weapons.

“The president’s point was that Putin should not be allowed to exercise power over his neighbors or the region. He wasn’t talking about Putin’s power in Russia or about regime change,” an official from the U.S.A. the White House to Fox News Digital after the comments about Putin.

“The president has been clear that we are not sending US troops to Ukraine and there is no change in that position,” a spokesman said about the possible deployment of troops.

In addition, Sullivan explained that Biden meant that the US would “respond accordingly” to any use of chemical weapons.

In March, former White House press secretary Jen Psaki explained that Biden was only “speaking from the heart” when he called Putin a “war criminal” but said the State Department had yet to make an official decision.

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Masking on planes

In April, Psaki also backed down on comments Biden made about masks on airplanes. The president said the decision to mask on planes was “up to” the Americans after a court ruling annulled the federal mandate.

“The president answered the question quite literally,” Psaki told reporters.

“They still recommend that people wear masks on airplanes; on Air Force One — which, of course, is a federal, not a private plane,” she continued, citing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines. “We all wore masks on the plane when we traveled to New Hampshire yesterday.”

Former White House press secretary Jen Psaki is pictured on Feb. 24.  Psaki was forced to clarify, backtrack or correct statements Biden made during her time in the position.

Former White House press secretary Jen Psaki is pictured on Feb. 24. Psaki was forced to clarify, backtrack or correct statements Biden made during her time in the position.
(AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Legitimacy of the 2022 elections

In January, Biden suggested that the upcoming midterm elections would be illegal if Congress did not pass voting rights legislation, prompting additional clarification from Psaki. The Senate ultimately failed to gather enough votes to pass the bill.

“Well, it all depends on whether we can convince the American people that some of this is being set up to try to change the outcome of the election,” Biden said at a news conference.

“I’m not saying it will be legitimate, as the increase in the prospect of being illegitimate is in direct proportion to our inability to implement these reforms,” ​​he added.

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In response, Psaki said Biden was not questioning the election, but was arguing quite the opposite.

“Let’s be clear: [Biden] didn’t question the legitimacy of the 2022 election,” Psaki tweeted. “He made the opposite point: In 2020, a record number of voters stood up for a pandemic, and election officials made sure they could vote and let those votes count. “

border visit

Biden said “he had been there before” when asked why he hadn’t visited the US-Mexico border amid a wave of migrants at a CNN town hall in October 2021.

Psaki said the president was referring to a trip he made to the border 14 years ago.

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“He drove across the border when he was campaigning in 2008,” she told reporters. “And he’s certainly familiar with — and it’s stuck with him — the fact that in El Paso, the border runs right through the center of the city.”

Activation of the National Guard

During the same CNN town hall, Biden stated that he would consider activating the National Guard to help with supply chain issues the country is facing.

However, Psaki said at the time that the White House was not “actively pursuing the use of the National Guard at the federal level.”

“It’s something any president could do, would have the authority to do, but it’s not something that’s being actively considered,” she said.

Fox News Digital reporters Nikolas Lanum and Adam Shaw contributed to this report.

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