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. my13

    Hahahhaha!!! Wait...why did he need to apologize? The whole nation saw Mr. Smart guy mess it up??

    January 28, 2009 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  2. bob whitford

    This is NEWS? The economy is in the toilet, and Ed Henry has nothing better to report on? Knock, knock .. Ed?

    Anyone home?

    Journalism, and journalistic standards have been replaced by entertainment at CNN and most everywhere else.

    The sheep that follow these 'news organizations' get just what they deserve.

    January 28, 2009 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  3. rena

    My goodness! This is not news. People please have a little humor in life. Stop taking everything to heart or to judgement. Maybe most of you need to put a little laughter in your life; the bible does say that it is like medicine to the soul. It does the heart good, and by reading some of these posts, some of you can most certainly use a little laughter to change that evil heart.

    When are we going to become real examples to our children? Will the real adults stand up? Will the real parents take a stand? Make a difference by showing unity and love towards one another.

    January 28, 2009 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  4. Carolina Democrat


    to be fair, I saw news video of a reception immediately after the swering in where Justice Roberts went up to Pres. Obama and shook hands, leaned in and apologized and said it was "my fault". Very easy to read his lips. And Pres. Obama obviously told him not to worry about it.

    So, let's move on and remind Joe, if it doesn't bother Pres. Obama, it shouldn't bother you and us.

    January 28, 2009 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  5. Carolina Democrat

    Sorry Dan for calling you out. by mistake I meant Sandra in Texas.

    January 28, 2009 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  6. Dennis

    This is ridiculous – it was a light-heartted joke, and if Chief Justice Roberts was offended – then he is in the wrong business!!!!!

    January 28, 2009 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  7. jon

    WHO CARES ! ! ! Seriously guys its a joke, people make jokes. It was not racist, sexist, or slanderous in any way. I think it shows a fine human quality that good ol Dick Cheney could never show.

    January 28, 2009 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  8. Jake

    Sadly, Joe Biden is known for his smart-mouth antics, bellicose and pompastic remarks moreso than he is for his intellect and ability to perform as a statesman. I am a lifelong Republican and stronlgy support Mr. Obama and the new administration, I can only hope, like the rest of you that Joe does not blow up at the wrong time.

    Sure, it was a barb at the Chief Justice and I am sure that they made nice like behind closed doors. What if this had been a barb directed at the head of state for a foreign power that could cause serious damage with our economy or worse lead to military action against us. All fun and games until someone launches an ICBM Joe

    January 28, 2009 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  9. dadou

    the vice prez hes a cool guy leave him alone when you to that stage of life you can pretty much say whatever you want. Once in awhile cracking jokes wont hurt nobody, at least hes a straight shooter.

    January 28, 2009 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  10. Amalraj

    I am from India

    My Heartly thanks to president OBAMA. He knows how to respect the people.

    We can joke but it doesn't hurt any others.
    I hatsoff to Joe Biden for his apologies.

    America is a Great and decent Country.

    January 28, 2009 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  11. Dozirulf

    It was a harmless joke.

    January 28, 2009 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  12. Martha McDonald

    That moment was so tense, I think a small joke was warranted. Joe Biden is a jovial, friendly, and likable person. I agree, lighten up!
    Who in the hell would take the biggest day in America, have a one minute line of words to swear in the President of the US and FLUB it.
    I am astonished that the Supreme Court Chief Justice could not handle this.
    He was going in front of MILLIONS and he was unprepared to SWEAR IN A PRESIDENT???????????????? PUHLEEZE
    Biden making a joke, lightened the load, people.
    Have a laugh. Watch John Stewart and Stephen Colbert. No one remains safe from their jokes. Even John McCain appears on there and laughs at himself.

    January 28, 2009 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  13. David

    BO wants to sidestep that one all he can. He wants no more light on the fact he did the oath over with no bible. AC.

    January 28, 2009 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  14. Karen- Change is coming

    Biden - The truth shall set you free. I totally agree, he should have read the oath right the first time. I understand President Obama because he's trying to bring everyone together and he's not playing games. But Vice President Biden, you hit it out the park. hahahaha ROFL

    January 28, 2009 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  15. down to earth MF

    what a stupid news article...

    January 28, 2009 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  16. Silvia

    Biden just said what everyone else watching the inauguration would've said. I mean, the whole world was watching and collectively cringed at the delivery of the oath. No harm acknowledging the purple elephant in the room with a little humor. So, to echo alot of people here, lighten up. It was funny.

    January 28, 2009 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  17. J

    Humor is an opinion. President Obama evidently smiled and found humor in Lowery's prayer but not with the Chief Justice ...interesting

    January 28, 2009 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  18. Tony in Chattanooga

    Very tasteless. I just hope this isnt a sign of things to come.
    Obama needs to put a leash on his joker pet. It will only make them both look bad.

    January 28, 2009 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  19. David

    I have to call you out again Mari. There has been all this hate on these blogs the last eight years. This is a free country the last time I checked (for now) and people can voice their opinion as afforded by the Constitution. And here is mine: the two party system is a scam.

    January 28, 2009 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  20. Andi

    Dear VP Biden,
    I sooooo needed the Obama Administration to be the "grown-ups."
    Please think before you speak. You should know there are people that will take any excuse to discredit you and Pres. Obama. Don't make it easy on them. In the public eye, you MUST evaluate everything you say and do. Save distractions from your work for the important issues, not jokes given in bad taste that can harm. I'm curious as to what your motivation was??? Do you think the Chief Justice wasn't aware of his mistake? And how nervous would ANYONE be given the oath of office to one of the most powerful leaders in the world? Give him a bit of leeway.

    January 28, 2009 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  21. HmmmmH

    I want to see an apology from the Chief Justice to the American people for flubbing the inauguration ceremony....

    January 28, 2009 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  22. Cori from Colorado

    Give me a break, lighten up people.

    January 28, 2009 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  23. Maureen

    To the person that made the Palin statement -- at least Joe Biden knew he was making a joke - she still dosen't know what is going on-

    January 28, 2009 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  24. 30m-Democrat-voted Clinton then McCain

    Joe Biden, the gift that keeps on giving.

    January 28, 2009 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  25. Dave

    Oh Joe Biden...you are a delight

    January 28, 2009 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25