President Biden had a “Rick Perry moment” while making remarks at a Pennsylvania truck factory Wednesday, claiming he had sought the presidency for three reasons — before only naming two.
“When I announced my campaign, and not many people took it seriously, I said I was running for three reasons,” Biden told workers at the Mack Trucks facility in Macungie, outside of Allentown. “One, to restore the soul of this country, a sense of decency and honor. But secondly, to rebuild the backbone of the country: hard-working middle class folks who built this country.
“And I want to point out, unions built the middle class,” the president added, to applause. “That’s not a joke. Unions built the middle class.”
Biden never revealed the third reason he ran for president, instead going on to pander to his audience by claiming that without the support of the United Auto Workers union, “I never would have won” his initial election to the US Senate from Delaware in 1972.
“So, before you get upset, remember, you’re to blame why I got here,” he said.
The president’s mental lapse recalled the moment Perry, then governor of Texas, said during a 2011 Republican primary debate that if elected president, he would eliminate three federal agencies. He named the Departments of Commerce and Education, but drew a blank on the third one, even asking himself aloud, “What’s the third one there?” before admitting to the moderators that “I can’t [remember]. The third one, I can’t. Sorry. Oops.”
Perry later said the third agency he was thinking of was the Department of Energy. In an ironic twist, Perry served as energy secretary under former President Donald Trump between March 2017 and December 2019.
In the same speech Wednesday, Biden had what he called a “Freudian slip” when he uttered “President Trump” while meaning to mention his former boss, Barack Obama.
“In 2009, during the so-called Great Recession, the president asked me to be in charge of managing that piece — then-President Trump,” Biden began before correcting himself. “Excuse me, Freudian slip, that was the last president. He caused — anyway, that was President Obama, when I was vice president. The American auto industry, remember, was on the rocks.”
Biden’s verbal gaffes and slip-ups have been a feature of his public remarks since he first announced his candidacy in early 2019. Some congressional Republicans, led by former White House doctor Ronny Jackson (R-Texas) have called on the president to take a cognitive test to prove he is mentally up to the job.