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Coons defends Biden’s ‘small gaffe’ at contentious press conference

Democratic Sen. Chris Coons (Del.) on Sunday appeared to downplay what he called a “small gaffe” from President Biden during a press conference last week where he mistakenly called Egypt’s leader the “president of Mexico.”

Biden, during a press conference last Thursday, mistakenly referred to Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi as the “president of Mexico” when answering a question on the Israel-Hamas war. The remarks were made during a press conference following a special counsel report on Biden’s handling of classified documents that also included a harsh assessment of his memory and recall abilities.

Pressed on Biden’s mistake by ABC “This Week” co-anchor Jonathan Karl, Coons said, “As you well know, small gaffes are a part of what all of us in public life do.”

Coons pointed to a gaffe from House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) in which he appeared to confuse Iran with Israel — which Biden’s allies have repeatedly brought up on social media since the president’s mix-up last Thursday.

Coons also brought up Trump’s mix-up last month when he appeared to confuse Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley with former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) while talking about the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riots.

“Here’s what matters — not the occasional small gaffe. He had a 12-minute press conference where he was focused, engaged, purposeful, and all you’re focused on is that one minute or less,” Coons said.

Karl pushed back on Coons’s notion and said the gaffe “was not just one moment,” before playing clips of other gaffes from Biden. He also pointed to an ABC News poll that showed more than 80 percent of respondents say they believe Biden, 81, is too old to serve as president.

At 81, Biden is the oldest sitting U.S. president. If reelected in November, he would be 86 at the end of his second term.

“If press coverage focuses relentlessly on things that don’t represent Joe Biden’s real body of work, you can push towards that kind of result,” Coons said. “That poll should have been about who’s accurately working to secure our border.”

Hur’s report included specific details about Biden’s memory from his interview with the president, including the claim that Biden did not remember “within several years” when his son Beau had died.

Coons called the idea that Biden struggled to remember the year of his son Beau’s death “appalling.”

“We are in a fight for the soul of our nation,” Coons said earlier in the interview. “And the idea that somehow, Joe Biden forgot the date of his son’s death is offensive and appalling.”

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