Democrats share Mike Johnson’s Iran-Israel gaffe in bid to take heat off Biden

Amid concerns over president Biden’s age and cognitive ability, Democratic lawmakers have accused MAGA supporters of double standards after speaker Mike Johnson appeared to confuse Iran with Israel

Martha McHardy
Friday 09 February 2024 18:22 GMT
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President Biden mixes up Mexico and Egypt while addressing hostage situation

Democrats are rushing to defend President Joe Biden after he appeared to confuse Mexico with Egypt during a press conference called to refute claims about his poor memory.

Following the release of Special Counsel Robert Hur’s report on Thursday – which claimed Mr Biden’s memory was “significantly limited” – Democratic lawmakers pointed to House Speaker Mike Johnson’s own gaffe, where he confused Iran with Israel last week.

“Let me be clear... we passed the support for Iran many months ago. Immediately after I became Speaker we set the necessary resources there,” Mr Johnson said while appearing live on Meet the Press last week, referring to an aid package passed by Congress for Israel.

Democrats and commentators quickly took to X to point out the House speaker’s gaffe, accusing Republicans of hypocrisy and double standards.

“Speaker Johnson must resign. I’m worried about his memory. How can he lead the Congress?” Rep Eric Swalwell wrote.

“Oh the Irony about bad memory. Let me help him out. Iran: Bad Israel: Good,” congressman Jared Moskowitz added.

“If you are calling out Biden for referring to Egypt as Mexico but didn’t have a problem with Trump calling Nikki Haley Nancy Pelosi, then you are disingenuous,” social media commentator Brian Krassenstein chimed in.

Democrats are seeking to defend president Biden after he appeared to confuse Mexico with Egyptduring a press conference

“If you are calling out Biden’s memory but ignoring the fact that Trump ‘did not recall’ 30+ times under oath then you are disingenuous. People make mistakes and misspeak all the time. I do it probably daily and I’m only 42 and don’t have people shouting at me,”

Mr Biden had called a press conference on Thursday evening to push back on the claims made in the special counsel’s report.

But, in the briefing, he sparked further questions about his memory when he appeared to confuse Mexico with Egypt.

“The president of Mexico did not want to open up the gate to allow humanitarian material to get in. I talked to him. I convinced to open the gate,” he said.

“I talked to Bibi [Benjamin Netenyahu] to open the gate on the Israeli side. I’ve been pushing really hard, really hard to get humanitarian assistance into Gaza.

“There are a lot of innocent people who are starving, innocent people or in trouble and die, and it’s got to stop, number one.

“Number two... I’m the guy that made the case that we have to do much more to increase the amount of material going in, including fuel, including other items. I’ve been on the phone with Qataris. I’ve been on the phone with the Egyptians,” he added.

Mike Johnson confuses Iran with Israel

Mr Hur’s report came from the findings of an investigation into Mr Biden’s handling of classified documents, which were found at his home in Delaware and former office in Washington DC.

In his report, the Republican prosecutor did not recommend that Mr Biden face criminal charges, citing what he described as significant “mitigating factors”.

Among these factors, he said that Mr Biden’s memory about the documents was “significantly limited” during his interviews with investigators and described the president as a “well meaning elderly man with a poor memory”.

The report also claimed that Mr Biden did not remember what year his son, Beau Biden, had died from brain cancer, and described part of an interview in which the president had trouble keeping track of the years during which he served as vice president.

During Thursday’s press conference, Mr Biden took umbrage at the suggestion he could not remember when his son died.

Donald Trump, 77, has also questioned Joe Biden’s mental competency

“There’s even reference that I don’t remember when my son died — how the hell dare he raise that?” he said.

The president pointed out that he still wears a rosary which belonged to his late son on his wrist, and attends a yearly memorial service to mark the anniversary of his death.

“I don’t need anyone to remind me when he passed away,” he added.

The scathing report comes as Mr Biden has made a series of gaffes in recent public speeches.

On Wednesday, the 81-year-old president declared that he had discussed the January 6 Capitol riots with Chancellor of Germany Helmut Kohl, during a G7 meeting in the UK in 2021. Kohl passed away in 2017.

Mr Biden appears to have been trying to refer to another former chancellor of Germany, Angela Merkel, who was in office at the time back of the apparent 2021 conversation.

Meanwhile, during a campaign speech on Sunday in Las Vegas, Mr Biden made another gaffe, confusing current French president Emmanuel Macron with the former president of France, Francois Mitterrand, who has been dead since 1996.

And this week’s gaffes aren’t the only ones on the president’s record, who has nicknamed himself the “gaffe machine”.

In June 2023, the president muddled up the ongoing war in Ukraine for the Iraq War, which ended in 2011.

In the same month, Mr Biden made another verbal gaffe when he bizarrely closed out a speech on gun control with the proclamation: “God save the Queen, man.”

Mr Biden’s many gaffes have been capitalised on by his political rivals, including 77-year-old Donald Trump, who claimed the president “can’t put two sentences together and he’s in charge of nuclear warfare” at an event in October.

Mr Trump also trolled president Mr Biden last month with a spoof advert depicting the White House as a “senior living” establishment where “residents feel like presidents”.

However, Mr Trump, who is just four years younger than the president, has also faced questions over his own age and mental competency.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis previously launched an “accident tracker” to catalogue Mr Trump’s various gaffes – while he was competing with him for the Republican presidential nomination – the latest of which occurred last month when he appeared to mix-up his only Republican challenger Nikki Haley with former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi while discussing the January 6 Capitol riots.

Mr Biden later mocked Mr Trump for the gaffe, writing on X: “I don’t agree with Nikki Haley on everything, but we agree on this much: She is not Nancy Pelosi.”

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