January 28th, 2009
10:40 AM ET
4 years ago

Biden apologizes to Roberts for oath of office joke

Biden couldn't pass up poking fun at Chief Justice Roberts last week.

Biden couldn't pass up poking fun at Chief Justice Roberts last week.

(CNN) — An aide to Vice President Joe Biden tells CNN he called Chief Justice John Roberts last week to apologize for a light-hearted remark he made over the flubbed Inauguration Day oath of office.

"My memory is not as good as Justice Roberts, Chief Justice Roberts," Biden said last Wednesday, as he asked for a copy of the oath he was using to swear in senior members of the White House staff.

Several staffers reacted to the comment with groans and laughter, though President Obama, standing next to Biden, did not crack a smile.

An aide to the vice president said Tuesday the two men spoke privately after that comment. “They spoke and had a good conversation,” said the aide, who declined to give further details.

Roberts' mistake came about half way through the 35-word oath, when, reciting from memory, he said the word 'faithfully,' out of order. The flub confused Obama who ultimately repeated the mistake.

Meanwhile, Biden has been selected to handle the administration’s first foreign trip. The White House said Tuesday the vice president will travel to Germany next week with retired Gen. James Jones, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs.

Biden will represent the United States at the Wehrkunde, the annual security policy conference held in Munich.

–CNN's Ed Henry contributed to this report

Filed under: Joe Biden
soundoff (609 Responses)
  1. Aud

    Good Old Joe! You gotta love him. He 's very funny and he knows his stuff. He has been on Capitol Hill for 36 years. Everyone knows Biden and they know how he is. I don't think the Chief Justice was insulted at all. Come on America, can we lighten up a little. We need a good laugh every now and then.

    January 27, 2009 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  2. Cammi317

    Whatever, it was in good fun and not intended to be mean. I don't see why he needed to apologize, except for the fact that they will need him to vote their way during the administration. Otherwise an apology for such a small thing is dumb.

    January 27, 2009 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  3. wow

    This is whats wrong with the US people worrying about hurting other people's feelings, everyone needs to stop being so sensitive

    January 27, 2009 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  4. me again

    Who wasn't smacking themselves in the forehead when the Presidential oath got flubbed? I think that as a nation, everyone groaned (on the inside at least) ...lol, it's no biggie to joke about it, perhaps Obama is just a little jealous because Biden's oath went off without a hitch-he totally nailed it.

    I mean, if I had to rate oath performance....well, if I were Obama I would play my Presdiential card, and giving Biden a-talking-to about a silly joke would be my revenge! bahahahaha!

    January 27, 2009 08:25 pm at 8:25 pm |
  5. LMG

    Biden's a boob! I can just imagine Obama rolling his eyes and thinking to himself, "And I'm going to be stuck with this jerk, making these stupid gaffs for another four years! Man, what have I gotten myself in to?"

    January 27, 2009 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  6. Texas Teacher

    Sometimes you can say something with a little humor that otherwise can't be spoken of without offense given. All I can say is that if the shoe fits... wear it. It was one of those convenient jabs... I think Biden was in his rights to make the point with a grin. 🙂

    I think I am really getting tired of every Tom, Dick, and Republican feeling like the Obama administration is not being fair to them... hell no one ever even questioned Bush and company on anything! Seriously... give me a break! The republicans thumbed their noses at the democrats at every opportunity! Pffft....

    January 27, 2009 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  7. GWB

    I'm a Republican and Joe Biden is not a problem – neither is Obama. Now get rid of Hollywood libs, Harry Reid and Pelosi and we can all get along, I believe.

    January 27, 2009 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  8. Bob

    Y'all need to get a real job!
    Don't change Joe!

    January 27, 2009 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  9. Lilarose in Bandon, Oregon


    We NEED some light-heartedness in this miserable country!

    Don't these people have alot more important stuff to worry about than a joke?

    Biden, don't spend one second on this kind of stuff.

    January 27, 2009 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  10. Ben Dallas


    You must have missed the last eight no 20 years of republican mean spirited and ugly behavior. Try the last stupid comment from Rush Limp bow.

    January 27, 2009 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  11. Francisco

    Good scolding; he deserves it for his quick tongue.

    January 27, 2009 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  12. Republicans Are a Joke

    Biden needs to apologize for nothing.

    Roberts screwed up the oath, probably on purpose, as a rabid Conservative. He has no business being on the Court as it is. He is an arrogant jerk who has stated his whole purpose in life is to overturn Roe V Wade.

    It is the Republicans I want to hear apologizing for 8 years of hell and for wasting $10B a month in a senseless war.

    They need to shut up and vote for the economic stimulus plan NOW. No more games and playing with our lives. We need help now and I am sick of petty Republican politics. McCain was sickening enough with his disgusting dishonorable campaign of hatred and lies.

    Republicans are supposed to be "Country First"??? What a joke.
    Prove it and actually do something for Americans instead of enriching yourself and your rich buddies.

    Vote for the package or pack up your office and go home now for you will surely be voted out of office come midterm elections.

    Boehner is the biggest fool of all. His state is hurting the most and he is up in Washington playing to the news media and blocking everything Obama plans to do just for the sheer sake of blocking. He is a traitor to America in its time of desperate need. I think he has let his brain fry too long in his tanning bed.

    January 27, 2009 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  13. fearful for my country

    Does it really surprise anyone that Biden is constantly putting his foot in his mouth? There's a reason this guy didn't even get a small fraction of the votes in the primary and Obama chooses him for VP. Kinda makes one wonder....

    January 27, 2009 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  14. will

    I would like to say to Joe, as I tell my children, keep you mouth close!

    January 27, 2009 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |
  15. Anajia

    @Kevin: If you are going to make a comment, especially supporting Rush Limbaugh, you need to learn how to spell and anyway this discussion is not about Limbaugh. Stay on subject

    January 27, 2009 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |
  16. Billy

    Oh, Joe, It is ok?? Let's hold hands, drink koolaide and dance. All will be ok. Heck if Bush had said that you would of all had a freaking cow. Agreed not bad at all, but I love the double standards. 4 more years...

    January 27, 2009 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
  17. Larry

    CNN –CNN's Ed Henry contributed to this report,THANKYOU, this was not the same ol,same ol,biased report that, where as these guys are always "protected" by the media.Had the previous vice president done and said the same things--we would have read this same story.

    How come you're doing such a good job ?????

    January 27, 2009 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
  18. Otto

    A Chief Justice messing up the Oat of office? That joke was very small to what should have been said.

    The VP has a sense of humor "at least" not like Senor Cheney who has an iron heart. Look at the lite side once in a while people.

    President Obama is just an upright gentleman and wanted to keep it serious.

    January 27, 2009 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
  19. Charlie in Maine

    I much perfer Biden's humor to Cheney's use of the F-word against Patrick Leahy. Does anyone remember that?

    Joe Biden is great but there is a reason that he is Vice President and not press secretary.

    January 27, 2009 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
  20. Me

    President Obama should ask the Preacher who said the last Prayer on Inuaguration Day to say, I'm sorry for his comments."
    Yellow will be Mellow and so on...........geeze what a guy

    January 27, 2009 08:33 pm at 8:33 pm |
  21. Peter

    I am still wondering why Bush,Roberts and co. politicise our judicial branch, someone explain!

    January 27, 2009 08:33 pm at 8:33 pm |
  22. viewer

    Roberts himself joked with Obama right before he delivered the oath on inauguration day – if memory serves, he said "Ready to take notes, Senator?" Pretty cocky for someone about to flub his lines, not to mention that Obama was 'president elect,' not Senator, on that day. But I took it as an inside joke from one constitutional scholar to another. I'd be surprised if he took offense at this, and if he did, I'd say it's a double standard not to hold others' jests to the same standard as ones own.

    January 27, 2009 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  23. JMH

    Linda Welch – Obama chose to use his middle name in the ceremony long before that day. Justice Roberts did not make that decision.

    January 27, 2009 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  24. Chris in New York

    "and please please people, don't listen to them about RUSH. we can listent to who ever we want. Rush is the man, and those who try and stop us from listening to him are guilty of censorship including the president. Rush speakers for how we feel america. Get used to it"

    Once again, Rush's fans prove themselves to be complete idiots. Or 4th graders; gramatically, that's about where this guy's at.

    Oh, and Go Biden. Obama's a little deadpan; Joe needs to liven things up once in a while.

    January 27, 2009 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  25. Rod Murrow

    Roberts is the one who owes the nation an apology...the wise-crack that VP Biden made was well-deserved!

    January 27, 2009 08:37 pm at 8:37 pm |
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