White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre defended President Joe Biden’s gaffe — in which he asked Rep. Jackie Walorski to speak up, in the room — Wednesday, noting that the congresswoman who was killed in a car crash last month was “top of mind ” for the president.
“The President was naming the congressional champions on this issue and was acknowledging her incredible work,” Jean-Pierre told media Wednesday at her daily briefing, video of which you can watch at the top of this post. “He had already planned to welcome the congresswoman’s family to the White House on Friday. There will be a bill signing in her honor of her this coming Friday, so, of course, she was on her mind of her. She was top of mind for the president.”
Jean-Pierre’s comments follow a White House food insecurity conference on Wednesday in which Biden thanked several senators and congress members for their contributions and asked if Walorski was present.
“I want to thank all of you here, including bipartisan elected officials like Representative [Jim] McGovern, Senator [Mike] Braun, Senator [Cory] Booker, Representative Jackie — are you here? Where’s Jackie? — I think she wasn’t going to be here — to help make this a reality,” the president said.
The Indiana Republican, who was the co-chair of the House Hunger Caucus, died in an August car accident that also killed two of her staffers.
Jean-Pierre came to Biden’s defense, noting that it’s not “unusual to have someone top of mind,” especially at a “big event.” “If you put it into the context,” she continued, “it happened at an event where we were calling out the champions, congressional champions in particular, of this issue, this important issue when it comes to food and security.”
The also denied that press secretary that the mistake was prompted by Biden’s teleprompter, saying that “If that had been the case, I would have stated that,” and adding that the reporter who suggested it was “jumping to a lot of conclusions.” She also did not agree to give the president’s prepared remarks to the media.
When another media member noted Biden’s comments were “confusing,” Jean-Pierre responded “I don’t find that confusing,” adding that “I think many people can speak to, sometimes, when you have someone top of mind – exactly that. ”