January 28th, 2009
10:40 AM ET
8 months 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. Snake eyes

    TO BE FAIR, ROBERTS SCREWED UP THE MOST IMPORTANT INAUGURATION CEREMONY SINCE KENNEDY (TO DEMOCRATS ANYWAY), SO I THINK SOME JABBING IS FAIR.
    BUT IN THE SPIRIT OF BIPARTISANSHIP, THE SNIPING SHOULD COME TO A CLOSE.
    YET STILL ON THE OTHER HAND, A GOOD LAUGH AT THE EXPENSE OF A COLLEAGUE SHOULDNT BE THAT BIG OF A DEAL....

    January 27, 2009 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
  2. Lynn

    An administration who can admit to, and take responsibility for, their blunders, bungles, bloopers and oopses - what a welcome and refreshing change!

    January 27, 2009 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  3. dave

    Joe Biden is a joke. He failed in his bid for the White House and is on the ticket for only one reason-foriegn relations. He should have been secretary of state and hilary should go home and bake cookies for slick willy.
    You will see as time goes on that Joe can't keep his mouth shut and that things he thinks are funny are embarrasing to the president.

    January 27, 2009 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  4. Chris

    Why apologize? I think its kinda funny. People are too sensitive.

    January 27, 2009 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  5. Alan

    You would have thought that out of over 300,000,000 people we could have found two better "clowns" to lead this country. Although the media would never admit it nor report it, I have a feeling that there is a lot of voter remorse out there. At least among the educated taxpayers!

    January 27, 2009 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  6. Will

    I'm a conservative and thought that line was pretty witty and funny.

    January 27, 2009 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  7. Paul H

    My prediction is that by the time Obamas term is over (Depending on how left they veer the country) four to eight years. That America will be somewhat surprised, and maybe pleased by the way Obama handled foreign affairs. Race issues will be farther along, and better than ever, the economy will cycle back around by this time, and his administration can take credit for it, and the abortion business will be booming! I also predict that by the end of that time people will be sick of the Democrats and be ready for change yet again. They will be sick of the Global warming agenda(expensive cars, taxes on BBQ grills via carbon credits, and no camp fires after midnight), we will be sick of Nancy Pelosi, and the still low approval rated congress. And they will be sick of the extreme left influence on our politicians. Biden will have stuck both feet in his mouth by then. Conservatives will win by landslide because of these things, a women will be elected President because of her gender regardless of her experience (these things happen).
    So lets just sit back and support our President.

    January 27, 2009 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  8. Karen

    Not surprising! Think of what would be happening if he had been OFFERED the position of Secretary of State. How many countries would he have offended by this time, and how many more "situations or issues" would have been inadvertently discussed by Dr. Jill? Thank God we have Hillary, regardless of how Mrs. Biden stated that her husband had turned down this offer.

    January 27, 2009 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  9. bored

    i'm sure CJ Roberts new it was in good fun. you don't have to be quite so serious all the time.
    geeeeeeeeez

    January 27, 2009 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |
  10. Joe Unger, San Francisco

    Obama is kind of a serious sort. Now George Bush would have been a fun guy to hang out with, away from politics. Obama might light up at a Star Wars convention though.
    I seriously doubt Obama and Biden talked much about his joke.

    January 27, 2009 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |
  11. C,ca

    Good grief people are thin-skinned lately. It was a stupid joke. That's all. Don't these people have anything better to do?

    January 27, 2009 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  12. Matthew in OK

    Boo-flippin-Hoo, it was a funny moment, and a good-natured joke. I personally found it hilarious. It was just a slip up, it could have happened to anyone but it happened to him. Everyone else was laughing so why can't he?

    It amazes me how childish people can be.

    January 27, 2009 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  13. Rachel, MO

    I love Joe Biden. There isn't a mean bone in his body. I'm sure he didn't mean anything by it. Move on CNN.

    January 27, 2009 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  14. Desmond Sequeira

    I'll say it again. Joe Biden is whom we need to lighten up the "gravitas" of politics. I liked his style throughout the whole inauguration, especially in his walkabout. Though I can imagine the Chief Justice may not have wanted the blunder to be noted yet again (IN ADDITION TO THE SCORES OF TIMES CNN AND EVERY OTHER MEDIA DID SO) , I am sure he took Biden's quip with a sense of humour.

    January 27, 2009 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
  15. Marcia Banta

    Tempest in a teapot.

    BTW...Obama didn't seem confused. He pasued to give Roberts time to correct and when he failed to do so repeated – not corrected – the oath as it was presented to him. I'd say his wheels turned pretty fast and he made the correct decision given the circumstances.

    January 27, 2009 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  16. person

    why should Biden apologize, Jon Roberts was a disgrace.

    January 27, 2009 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  17. Matt

    I don't understand our government. A harmless joke and you are forced to apologize? Come on.

    January 27, 2009 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  18. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    Remember during Obama's campaign he was ask which justices he would not have picked, Roberts and Clarence Thomas.

    January 27, 2009 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  19. Derrick

    Well, either we joke about it...or we hire someone who will not botch administering what amounts to a 30 plus word oath......c'mon! It wasn't intended to be offensive...really now..

    January 27, 2009 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  20. Ken in NC

    Vice President Biden will have to remember to become a more serious person now and understand that the President may want to make fun of someone elses flub but he will not because he knows he wants their support.

    January 27, 2009 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  21. Marie HESTER

    Mr. President: Please don't step on a little Irish levity at this frightening time in our history. There was no harm done, you covered beautifully for the Chief Justice. We need V.P.Biden's optimistic outlook to balance the seriousness of the position that you asked to hold. You have my wishes for wisdom, patience and faith in the years ahead.
    Marie Sullivan Hester

    January 27, 2009 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  22. Anonymous

    Is this guy really our V.P.?

    January 27, 2009 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  23. JP

    WHATEVER...it was a joke and Justice Roberts deserved a little poke for flubbing the oath. People need to lighten up. The Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court should be able to deliver something like this flawlessly. Since he didn't, he should have a thick enough skin to take the heat. VP Biden should not have apologized.

    January 27, 2009 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  24. Flo

    Good for VP Biden.............he's making sure no harm no foul.

    January 27, 2009 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  25. Debbie

    Oh come on.......how sensitive are we being – we should be glad our politicians can have a light hearted sense of humor in these trying times......I am so tired of the over reactions by a "few"

    January 27, 2009 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
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