Joe Biden


What was the accusation?

While campaigning for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2007, Joe Biden discussed his perceptions of opponent Barack Obama to the New York Post.  He said: “I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy. I mean, that’s a storybook, man.”  The comment received negative attention in the press, particular from conservative media.  Rush Limbaugh argued: “‘He is a clean African-American’? If Biden thinks that Obama is clean then he has to think that others are not clean. Does he mean that he knows that Jesse Jackson is not clean? Does he mean that he knows that Reverend Sharpton is not clean? … See, folks, this is the problem for the libs. Once they get off script they expose their idiocy, they expose their prejudice.”  But, it wasn’t just conservatives who were outraged.  Jesse Jackson blasted Biden as well, saying, “They are loaded words. And that’s why he should interpret what he meant by those loaded words. It was an attempt I thought to diminish Barack’s attributes and dismissive of our previous campaigns that made Barack’s candidacy possible.” Biden would reach out to Barack Obama in a personal phone call and would release a statement to the press claiming his words were taken out of context.

Key Apologia Strategies:

Mortification, Good Intentions

Video of Biden Describing Obama

Statement in Press Release

“I deeply regret any offense my remark in the New York Observer might have caused anyone. That was not my intent and I expressed that to Sen. Obama.”

Conference Call with Reporters

“Barack Obama is probably the most exciting candidate that the Democratic or Republican Party has produced at least since I’ve been around. And he’s fresh. He’s new. He’s smart. He’s insightful. And I really regret that some have taken totally out of context my use of the word ‘clean.’ My mother has an expression: clean as a whistle, sharp as a tack.”


Gregory, D. (2007, January 31). Sen. Biden apologizes for remarks on Obama. NBC News. Retrieved from:

Tapper, J. (2007, January 31). A Biden problem: Foot in mouth. ABC News. Retrieved from:

Thai, X., & Barrett, T. (2007, February 9). Biden’s description of Obama draws scrutiny. CNN. Retrieved from: