Rep. Walorski's Family Got an Apology From Biden

After president asked if late congresswoman was present in the audience last week
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 28, 2022 4:24 PM CDT
Updated Oct 4, 2022 12:27 PM CDT
Aides Address Biden's 'Where's Jackie?' Gaffe
President Biden looks into the audience as he leaves after speaking Wednesday during the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health at the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington.   (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Update: Two days after President Biden mistakenly asked if late Indiana Rep. Jackie Walorski was in the audience he was addressing, he did indeed meet with the Republican's family as planned. Walorski's brother tells the New York Post that Biden apologized for questioning "Where's Jackie?" and says his mother offered Biden this in response: "Well, Mr. President, we can tell you where Jackie is. She's in heaven with Jesus." Keith Walorski says Biden agreed with that statement. "We forgive him for his gaffe," he adds. He says the family was given an extensive West Wing tour; Nancy Pelosi, who accompanied them, reportedly quipped, "I’ve never been back here." Our story from Sept. 28 follows:

President Biden received no response at an event Wednesday when he called out to the audience for Rep. Jackie Walorski. The Indiana Republican was killed Aug. 3 in a highway accident. The president was thanking lawmakers of both parties at the White House conference on hunger, nutrition, and health for bringing the event about, the Hill reports. After mentioning a few of them, Biden added: "Jackie, are you here? Where's Jackie?" Walorski, who worked to reduce hunger, had cosponsored a bill to fund the conference, per NPR.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre did not acknowledge that Biden had made a mistake when talking with reporters later. It's just that Walorski was "top of mind" for the president, she said, because he plans to meet with her family at the White House on Friday, when he'll sign a bill naming a Veterans Affairs clinic in her home state for her. "That is what he was thinking of," Jean-Pierre said. "He was thinking about her." Biden did not correct himself before leaving the conference. A panel discussion followed, and Susan Rice, Biden's domestic policy adviser, then acknowledged Walorski's death.

Opponents jumped on the mistake by Biden, who has called himself a "gaffe machine." Former President Donald Trump has mocked Biden's mental acuity before, and Donald Trump Jr. tweeted Wednesday that the president must have forgotten the statement he issued when Walorski was killed. The Tea Party Patriots tweeted that Biden isn't fit for the job. Biden, 79, has pushed back against criticism that he's not sharp anymore, as recently as Sunday, when a 60 Minutes interview aired. Americans should focus on his accomplishments, not his age, Biden said in the interview. (Read more President Biden stories.)

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