Here’s the Full Context of Joe Biden’s ‘If Barack Obama Had Been Assassinated’ Remark
Former Vice President and current Democratic frontrunner Joe Biden is earning viral out-of-context headlines for a remark in which he asked young voters to imagine if Barack Obama had been assassinated after securing the presidential nomination.
On Friday, media figures were tweeting out various portions and paraphrases of a quote from a Biden town hall in New Hampshire that seemed pretty strange, absent context.
At New Hampshire town hall, Biden asks: What would have happened if Obama had been assassinated? https://t.co/7FLzhz6PvR
— Post Politics (@postpolitics) August 24, 2019
“Imagine if, God forbid, Barack Obama had been assassinated after becoming the de-facto nominee. What would have happened in America?” — Joe Biden, tonight in New Hampshire (per @sarahmucha)
— Chris Cillizza (@CillizzaCNN) August 24, 2019
Joe Biden to voters: Imagine if Obama had been assassinated https://t.co/OsTCJ1svMF
— The Daily Beast (@thedailybeast) August 24, 2019
NEW tonight: Joe Biden, returning to NH and attempting to put the focus on the foibles of President Trump, took an unusual departure toward the end of a 70-minute dive into health-care policy by asking the crowd to imagine the assassination of Barack Obama https://t.co/9rNajvo2eQ
— Matt Viser (@mviser) August 24, 2019
But the quote came within the context of a now-familiar Biden riff comparing the upheaval of the late sixties — specifically the assassinations of Robert F. Kennedy and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. — with that of the Trump era. The same riff got gaffe coverage a few days ago when he misspoke and said the two leaders were killed in “the seventies.”
This time, Biden added the bit about Obama to illustrate the trauma of the King and Kennedy assassinations for the young people in the audience.
“I only had two political heroes, one hero was my dad, my two political heroes were Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy,” Biden said, adding “My senior semester, they were both shot and killed.”
“Imagine what would have happened if, God forbid, if Barack Obama had been assassinated after becoming the de facto nominee,” he continued. “What would have happened in America? Things changed.”
He then connected the political energy brought on by tragedies like those assassinations and the shootings at Kent State with the engagement he’s seeing from young voters.
Biden campaign officials like Senior Adviser Symone Sanders, Deputy Campaign Manager Kate Bedingfield, and New Hampshire Comms Director Meira Bernstein pushed back on the effort to paint Biden’s statement as a gaffe.
Matt – He was putting into perspective, for the young folks in the room, about how traumatic the assassinations of RFK and MLK were for the country. This tweet is chasing clicks. https://t.co/K7cY4NeWyM
— Symone D. Sanders (@SymoneDSanders) August 24, 2019
This is a sleazy headline. He was talking about the turmoil of the late 60s and asking young people to imagine what the MLK and RFK assassinations did to the country. People deserve responsibility from their news outlets. https://t.co/kMHhoQyoAu
— Kate Bedingfield (@KBeds) August 24, 2019
I would challenge reporters tweeting about this to ask a single person in that room today what their takeaway from the event was.
I guarantee it wasn’t this. https://t.co/CW1e7J0ZN1
— Meira Bernstein (@Meirabb) August 24, 2019
Watch the clip above, via Fox News.
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