President Joe Biden has been fielding questions over his “regime change” remark about Russian dictator Vladimir Putin… but he didn’t even stick to the cheat sheet his staff slipped him.
Biden said Sunday, “For god’s sake, he cannot remain in power” — an explosive statement that ramps up already high tensions between Washington and Moscow.
State Secretary Anthony Blinken denied any possibility of regime change shortly afterward at a press conference. But the Biden-created P.R. problem hasn’t gone away.
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The president attempted damage control the next day, and he characterized his remark as an expression of “moral outrage,” not an endorsement of regime change.
“It’s more an aspiration than anything. He shouldn’t be in power. There’s no — I mean, people like this shouldn’t be ruling countries, but they do. The fact is they do, but it doesn’t mean I can’t express my outrage about it,” Biden told reporters.
“I was talking to the Russian people. The last part of the speech was talking to the Russian people, telling them what we thought.”
All the while, he appeared to be looking at bullet points on a notecard, photographs obtained by the New York Post show.
The card, called “Tough Putin Q&A Talking Points,” reads:
If you weren’t advocating for regime change, what did you mean? Can you clarify?
I was expressing the moral outrage I felt toward the actions of this man.
I was not articulating a change in policy.
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Take a look at the enlarged photo —
Biden had to have “I was not articulating a change in policy” written verbatim on a notecard so he wouldn’t screw it up… and he still screwed it up pic.twitter.com/OvEwlHQVry
— Jake Schneider (@jacobkschneider) March 28, 2022
Biden has admitted to using note cards in the past. At a town hall in October 2020, Biden was taking questions about his tax plan, and he pulled a card out of his jacket.
“I carry this card with me,” he said, according to the ABC News transcript.
Biden has demonstrated a penchant for deviating from the prepared remarks. Amid the Putin P.R. crisis, a White House staffer acknowledged Biden’s reputation as a formidable rambler in a statement to The Washington Post.
Sure enough, Biden appeared to speak off message Monday about Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson.
One White House staffer said at a press conference, “The president watched portions of Judge Jackson’s hearing yesterday and today.”
At a press conference later that day, Biden himself said of Jackson’s hearing, “I didn’t get the chance to see any of it.”
Biden himself once said at the town hall, “The words of a president matter.” Perhaps he could have benefitted from looking more closely at his staff’s note cards about not only Putin, but also Jackson.
JOE BIDEN: "I didn't get a chance to see any of" Ketanji Brown Jackson's confirmation hearing
RANDOM BIDEN STAFFER: "The president watched portions of Judge Jackson's hearing yesterday and today…He was also moved by the grace and dignity she has shown" pic.twitter.com/j6BoZj31Sk
— RNC Research (@RNCResearch) March 28, 2022
The Horn editorial team