President Biden incorrectly said during a stump speech Tuesday that his late son Beau lost his life while serving in Iraq — at least the second time in a matter of weeks the commander-in-chief has made the false claim.
Biden was discussing inflation, Medicare and Social Security in South Florida when he first confused the Iraq War with Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine, then said he was thinking of the earlier conflict because of his son.
“They talk about inflation … inflation is a worldwide problem right now because of a war in Iraq and the impact on oil and what Russia’s doing … excuse me, the war in Ukraine,” the president said. “I’m thinking about Iraq because that’s where my son died.”
Beau Biden passed away after a battle with brain cancer in May 2015 at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., at the age of 46. He returned from a yearlong deployment to Iraq in September 2009, where he served as a military lawyer in a Delaware National Guard brigade.
A few minutes after his inaccurate statement about Beau, Biden referenced his son’s death again while discussing the price of prescription drugs. This time the president correctly stated the cause of his son’s death.
“My son, who died of stage 4 glioblastoma, the cost of those drugs was enormous,” Biden said.
Joe Biden has said in the past that he believes Beau, who also served as Delaware’s attorney general, was exposed to toxic burn pits during his deployment which may have caused his cancer.
“In my view, I can’t prove it yet, he came back with stage 4 glioblastoma. Eighteen months he lived, knowing he was going to die,” Biden said during a 2019 speech.
It’s unclear if the president was making a reference to the alleged effects of the burn pits Tuesday or if it was yet another mental slip.
On Oct. 13, the president made the same mistake during a speech in Colorado, telling a crowd that Beau “lost his life in Iraq.”
“American soldiers of the 10th Mountain Division scaled that 1,800-foot cliff at night, caught the Germans by surprise, captured key positions, and broke through the German defense line at a pivotal point in the war,” the president said during an event designating the Camp Hale Continental Divide, the training ground of the US Army’s 10th Mountain Division, a national monument.
“Just imagine — I mean it sincerely, I say this as a father of a man who won the Bronze Star, the Conspicuous Service Medal, and lost his life in Iraq — Imagine the courage, the daring, and the genuine sacrifice, genuine sacrifice they all made,” the president said.
The president has struggled with public misstatements for decades, and they have increased in frequency during his term of office.
On Sept. 28, in a jaw-dropping gaffe, Biden tried to recognize the late Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.) at an event — forgetting she had died earlier this year despite putting out a statement mourning Walorski’s death and ordering the White House flag lowered for two days
Tuesday’s sparsely attended event at a Hallandale Beach community center was the first event of three Biden was to hold in the Sunshine State seven days before the midterm elections.
During the afternoon speech, Biden also warned Florida voters that Social Security and Medicare could be repealed by Republicans if they take control of Congress.
“You’ve been paying into Social Security your whole life, you earned it, now these guys want to take it away,” Biden said, describing the programs as “under siege” by the GOP.
“Who in the hell do they think they are?” the president asked at one point.
Later Tuesday, at a fundraising reception for Democratic Florida gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist, Biden described Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis — a potential rival in 2024 — as “Donald Trump incarnate.”
Biden will also attend a Miami Gardens event on Tuesday for Crist and Rep. Val Demings, both of whom are trailing DeSantis and Sen. Marco Rubio in the polls, respectively.