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. Mike, Syracuse NY

    I guess I'm the only conservative Republican who thought the one-liner was funny.

    January 27, 2009 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  2. becky

    I have noticed people writing Joe or Obama. To be respectiful it is President Obama and Vice President Biden

    January 27, 2009 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  3. Mish

    Awwwwww Joe rocks! It was just a joke, no big deal

    January 27, 2009 08:41 pm at 8:41 pm |
  4. Christine

    Yup, all is fine now that Biben has apologized. You know that's all that is needed now a day: say anything nasty about someone and just say "I'm sorry" and everything is okay dokey. I just love this double standard we live in!

    January 27, 2009 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  5. Sam Hill

    Yep just another mistake.. Kinda like the one where he said McCain should be Pres.. His is just a funny man. One that is a discrace to represent our country..

    January 27, 2009 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  6. Jane

    There has to be a way to make this Bush's mistake! Since he appointed Roberts...

    January 27, 2009 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  7. Coultergeist

    Sheesh, how sensitive can someone be? Co-workers joke and tease each other at their jobs on a daily basis, It's just innocent fun. It wasn't malicious. Lighten up people!!

    January 27, 2009 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
  8. TrueIndependent

    I have been reading quite a number of reports from Ed Henry that really leave a lot to be desires.

    There is a reason Ed Henry was not asked to sit in for Wolf when Wolf took a few days of vacation – Ed Henry is self-absorbed, forgets he is not the reason we watch CNN, and he should not make news. Dana Bash has a great future ahead of her. Ed Henry – Not!

    January 27, 2009 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
  9. William Wirt

    God help us if something happens to Obama - Biden keeps proving himself to be an fool.

    January 27, 2009 08:46 pm at 8:46 pm |
  10. AnonE

    Goodness, it was a joke. Mr. Biden didn't try to insult him. I'm sure Chief Roberts wasn't as upset as some of you are–after all, the oath was taken properly afterwards. It was humorous, and that was the intention; if anything, it lightened Capitol Hill.

    January 27, 2009 08:46 pm at 8:46 pm |
  11. Sharon Jacobs

    What Vice President Biden said was not the worse thing he could have said, as my mother use to say, "there is a time and place for all things". The Vice President is a good guy, I'm sure he felt bad (once those words flew out of his mouth) and he want Justice Roberts to know he didn't mean any harm.

    January 27, 2009 08:47 pm at 8:47 pm |
  12. Carl Justus

    If anyone gets upset about that then they are way to political correct. It that had been a janitor or some lowly person making that mistake there would have been ten times more jokes about it and no one would have said a work.

    If Roberts wants to be the chief justice then he should act like the chief justice and make sure he has the material he needs to be correct, particular when he is swearing in the President of the United States of America.

    Roberts should be the one who is apologizing for his stupidity for not having the words written down so he would not make a mistake. He found out he is not as smart as the thinks he is and should finally admit it.

    January 27, 2009 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
  13. Laura

    The gaffe master strike again!

    January 27, 2009 08:49 pm at 8:49 pm |
  14. R. Shaw

    The world will know what Republicans in Delaware have known all along, the Delaware Dufus will never change. Remember this....If Biden said it you can bet someone else wrote it!

    January 27, 2009 08:51 pm at 8:51 pm |
  15. prosanto

    Are people nuts. It was a wise crack. Get over it.

    January 27, 2009 08:51 pm at 8:51 pm |
  16. Scott Tucson

    Maybe Joe is practising to be a stand up comic as his next career four years from now.

    January 27, 2009 08:52 pm at 8:52 pm |
  17. Leigh

    He CAN'T think before he speaks and that's why he took the VP role. Goodness knows he would get this country in some serious squabbles abroad if he was SOS. Hillary rocks! She'll show him how to think before he speaks!

    January 27, 2009 08:52 pm at 8:52 pm |
  18. William A. Schaedler from St. Louis

    BIDEN needs to shut his mouth. A former plagiarist is a joke! BIDEN isa joke!

    January 27, 2009 08:55 pm at 8:55 pm |
  19. LIV

    VP Biden is a good man, but this is a new position and he needs to modify his comments accordingly. I'm sure he knows now.

    January 27, 2009 08:57 pm at 8:57 pm |
  20. Anonymous


    January 27, 2009 08:58 pm at 8:58 pm |
  21. John B

    I think Joe Biden thought this little humorous jab is just business as usual. The beauty is that President Obama, who shared the moment and the minor gaff with Chief Justice Roberts, has sent a signal to his team. Stop the unnecessary @#$%. Who is helped by reminding every one? Does Joe feel better and smarter? Maybe. Does Chief Justice Roberts? Doubtful. This is a lesson for everyone on Obama's "Team of Rivals" and something every American should consider implementing in their own life. Civility and respect should be exhalted.

    January 27, 2009 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
  22. IndependentfromTexas.

    I applaud how Obama quickly pushed Biden to get serious. Biden is a nice man, but not fit for VP. But, he surely is a team player and hope for the best. But, it is Obama's composure and nature that come out well in this episode.

    January 27, 2009 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
  23. Barbara

    Joe and Jill Biden have foot-in-mouth disease. Jill Biden struck the only discordant note during the inaugural celebrations when she intimated that Joe was offered the Secretary of State position before Hillary. Even if true, her remark was unnecessary and unkind. With all his gaffes, Joe Biden, an affable, likeable fellow, would be unsuited to the Secretary of State position. Obama chose the right person in Hillary.

    January 27, 2009 09:00 pm at 9:00 pm |
  24. Michael

    Toughen up...Biden has done more for this country then Roberts..he is one of the best foreign policy guys we have....and BTW...Roberts messed up!!!! Can you believe it??? The only idiot is Roberts....he tainted the swearing in....he is the one who should speak up and say he is sorry!! He is the Chief justice!!! His job is to recite and memorize!

    January 27, 2009 09:02 pm at 9:02 pm |
  25. john

    Biden is an A hole. He ALWAYS says the wrong thing because he is selfish and insensitive. He was obviously trying to throw a shot that was not good natured, at Judge Roberts. Biden's clearly a loser.

    January 27, 2009 09:04 pm at 9:04 pm |
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