Coons says idea Biden forgot year of son’s death ‘appalling’
Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) on Sunday ripped what he called the “appalling” idea that President Biden struggled to remember the year of his son Beau’s death, following a special counsel report on Biden’s handling of classified documents that offered a stark assessment of the president’s memory.
“We are in a fight for the soul of our nation,” Coons said Sunday during an interview with ABC News’s “This Week.” “And the idea that somehow, Joe Biden forgot the date of his son’s death is offensive and appalling.”
Special counsel Robert Hur released a 388-page report last Thursday that concluded Biden “willfully” retained classified documents, but declined to bring charges. The report also featured details about the 81-year-old’s memory and recall, describing the president as a “sympathetic, well-meaning, elderly man with a poor memory.”
Hur’s report included details about how Biden did not remember “within several years” when his son Beau had died.
Biden lashed out in response to Hur’s report during a combative and hastily scheduled press conference from the White House, where he told reporters: “How in the hell dare he raise that. Frankly, when I was asked the question I thought to myself it wasn’t any of their damn business.”
“I don’t need anyone to remind me when he passed away,” Biden said.
Biden has come under intense scrutiny for the press conference, particularly when he mistakenly referred to Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi as the “president of Mexico” when answering a question on the Israel-Hamas war.
Coons came to the defense of Biden on Sunday, telling “This Week” co-anchor Jonathan Karl, “As you well know, small gaffes are part of what all of us in public life do.” He then referenced a gaffe from House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) in which he appeared to confuse Iran with Israel — something Biden allies have been flooding social media with since Biden’s mix-up Thursday.
Coons also pointed to former President Trump’s remarks last month, when he appeared to confuse Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley with former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) while discussing the Jan. 6. insurrection.
“Here’s what matters — not the occasional small gaffe. He had a 12-minute press conference where he was focused, engaged, purposeful, and all you’re focused on is that one minute or less,” Coons said.
Karl interjected to say the instance was “not just one moment” and played a series of clips of other gaffes from the president. Karl pointed to a poll showing 80 percent of respondents that said they think Biden is too old to serve as president.
“If press coverage focuses relentlessly on things that don’t represent Joe Biden’s real body of work, you can push towards that kind of result,” Coons responded. “That poll should have been about who’s accurately working to secure our border.”
“And what you should be focused on in my view, what that poll should have focused on, what our nation should focus on, is the way that Donald Trump is undermining the rule of law, democracy and our safety as a nation,” he added.