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5 times Biden went off script during his State of the Union

President Biden’s State of the Union on Thursday was fiery, political and, at times, unscripted.

The president diverged from his prepared remarks several notable times with off-the-cuff comments and responses to members of Congress, possibly in an attempt to demonstrate his mental acuity and ability to think on his feet.

Biden, 81, went into the address with age as his most serious vulnerability in the election and aimed to ease some of the concerns Americans have about his stamina.

Here are five times he went off script:

Adding Laken Riley into the speech

Biden made an unplanned mention of Laken Riley, a Georgia nursing student who allegedly was killed by a migrant from Venezuela, in a notable back-and-forth with Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), an ally of former President Trump.

He began giving his prepared remarks on immigration, saying his predecessor, referring to Trump, personally called Republicans to tell them to block the bipartisan border deal because it would be a “political winner for me.”

Greene then yelled out, “what about Laken Riley?” and, “Say her name!”

Biden held up a pin that was given to him — and which many Republicans in the crowd were wearing — that read, “Say her name, Laken Riley.” 

“Laken Riley, an innocent young woman who was killed by an illegal,” he said, going off script. “That’s right. But how many of thousands of people are being killed by legals?” 

“To her parents, I say: My heart goes out to you. Having lost children myself, I understand,” he added.

He has since received backlash from fellow Democrats over his use of the word “illegal.”

Avoiding saying abortion

Biden’s prepared remarks included the word “abortion,” but in his delivered remarks, he cut it.

The president’s planned text said, “Because Texas law banned abortion, Kate and her husband had to leave the state to get the care she needed,” referring to Texas mother Katie Cox, who was a guest of the White House at the address.

In his actual delivery, he said, “because Texas law banned her ability to act, Kate and her husband had to leave the state to get what she needed.”

The president has had a longtime discomfort with the word abortion and only started saying it in the aftermath of the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade.

He hadn’t said the word out loud publicly during his presidency until May 2022, and he still will say that as a Catholic he’s “not big on abortion” but thinks Roe got it right, a stance that angers some advocates.

Throwing the justices’ words back at them

Biden was discussing in his address the power of women voters after Roe was overturned and Democrats experienced better-than-expected results in the 2022 midterms. He went slightly off script while citing the Dobbs decision from the Supreme Court and opted to directly address the justices.

In his prepared remarks, Biden was scripted to say, “In its decision to overturn Roe v. Wade the Supreme Court majority wrote, ‘Women are not without — electoral or political power.’ No kidding.”

In his delivery, the president said, “look, its decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court majority wrote the following — and with all due respect, justices — ‘Women are not without electoral — electoral power’ — excuse me — ‘electoral or political power.’”

“You’re about to realize just how much you were right about that,” he added, with the justices sitting in front of the podium on the floor of the House chamber.

Calling out Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.)

Biden was wrapping up his remarks, which lasted more than an hour, and said his typical phrase that he uses to conclude speeches: “Let me close with this.” 

Republicans in the audience applauded, and the president yelled, “Yay!”

“I know you don’t want to hear anymore, Lindsey, but I got to say a few more things,” he added.

The president was referring to his old Senate colleague, Graham.

The two had a strong working relationship and friendship that has since frayed; Graham said in November 2021 that Biden’s controversial Afghanistan withdrawal marked the breaking point of their friendship.

Snickers add-in

The president also at one point ad-libbed a reference to a candy bar.

He was touting Sen. Bob Casey’s (D-Pa.) legislation, which aims to end so-called shrinkflation by targeting companies that scale down their products without also reducing prices.

In his prepared remarks, Biden was scripted to say, “In fact, snack companies think you won’t notice when they charge you just as much for the same size bag but with fewer chips in it. Pass Senator Bob Casey’s bill to put a stop to shrinkflation!”

He added in a “hell” and a specific hit on Snickers.

“In fact, the snack companies think you won’t notice if they change the size of the bag and put a hell of a lot fewer — same size bag — put fewer chips in it. No, I’m not joking. It’s called ‘shrinkflation,’” Biden said. “Pass Bobby Casey’s bill and stop this. I really mean it.”

“You probably all saw that commercial on Snickers bars. And you get … charged the same amount, and you got about, I don’t know, 10 percent fewer Snickers in it,” he added.

Biden has previously brought up the size of a Snickers bar and the idea of shrinkflation. He said during a campaign event in Las Vegas last month: “They haven’t raised the price of a Snickers bars. They just took 10 percent of it out … it’s a lot smaller. So that’s how they’re making more money.”


Source: The Hill

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