Joe Biden mixes up Angela Merkel for dead German leader

By John Mercury February 9, 2024

Joe Biden has mixed up a living politician with a dead one for the second time this week.

The US president referred to the late German chancellor Helmut Kohl instead of former chancellor Angela Merkel while detailing a 2021 conversation at campaign events on Wednesday.

During the fundraisers in New York, the 81-year-old described conversations he said he had with European leaders at a G7 meeting in Cornwall in 2021, which took place months after the January 6 riots at the Capitol.

He said that Helmut Kohl, who died in 2017, had asked him how he would respond if he read about people storming the British parliament and killing officers “to stop the election of a prime minister”.

But it was Ms Merkel who attended the summit as German chancellor.

The blunder came days after Mr Biden confused Francois Mitterrand, the former French president who died in 1996, for current president Emmanuel Macron.

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Biden confuses Macron with dead French leader

In a campaign speech in Las Vegas on Monday, Mr Biden was telling the same story that he told on Wednesday, remarking on how the leaders of France and Germany reacted when they saw him at a G7 summit after the January 6 riots.

Recounting his exchange with Mr Macron, he not only referred to him as Mitterand, but also initially said he was “from Germany”, before quickly correcting himself.

Mr Mitterand served as president of France from 1981 to 1995.

Those comments came less than a day before he appeared to freeze while updating reporters on a potential hostage deal between Israel and Hamas.

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“There is some movement and I don’t want to… choose my words,” he said on Tuesday, speaking slowly.

“There is some movement, there has been a response from the… there has been a response from the opposition but, yes, I’m sorry, from Hamas, but it seems to be a little over the top.”

Errors by Mr Biden have been flagged regularly in recent years.

More recent examples include mixing up Taylor Swift and Britney Spears in November while pardoning turkeys in a Thanksgiving ceremony, and referring to the All Blacks rugby side as the “Black and Tans” – a British paramilitary force that repressed opponents of British rule during the Irish War of Independence.

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