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. Replublican rooting for Obama's success

    I don't like the gotcha culture. We all make mistakes. I think we all have foot in mouth disease more than we would care to acknowledge. Can you imagine being under this kind of media microscope? Let's not discourage good people from entering into the service of politics by overanalyzing every facial twitch and small misstep. Believe it or not, not all blunders by political leaders need to even be reported at all. Let us discard Jerry Springerism, and start a new culture where we sincerely want each other to succeed.

    January 27, 2009 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  2. Solamor

    My goodness we're going very easy on Mr. Biden's goofy joke; not so easy on Mr. Bush's misspeaks, or Dan Quayle's a few years ago. They were treated like idiots. You may say it isn't important; lighten up, but it is certainly not the tone Mr. Obama wishes to set during his first few days in office – poking fun at people for simple mistakes.

    January 27, 2009 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  3. tws1906

    Roberts is the one who needs to apologize.

    January 27, 2009 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  4. Michael G -Ventura ca

    It was funny Joe- no need to apologize- I HOPE THAT'S WHAT THE CHIEF JUSTICE SAID-OTHERWISE......

    January 27, 2009 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  5. Rick from Chicago


    You mean as opposed to the countless apologies from Cheney that never happened?

    January 27, 2009 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  6. Linda B., Ga.

    Joe, you did nothing wrong. i don't see why you felt you had to apologize, IF anything, Chief Justice Roberts should've given a public apology to the new President and the American People....

    God Bless America 🙂

    January 27, 2009 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  7. Lyn

    Don't worry Joe, I'd have said the same thing! I get in trouble all the time for the stuff that flows out of my mouth too!

    January 27, 2009 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  8. john

    Joe needs to lay off the sauce.

    January 27, 2009 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  9. Shawn

    The world needs to lighten up. It was funny. If it was up to the politically correct dictators, the entire world world would be stripped of humor because something might offend someone.

    January 27, 2009 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  10. Cindy

    I noticed who really didn't think it was funny, his boss, Obama. Funny however, Obama didn't have a problem when he messed up taking the oath of office. And don't tell me it was the fault of Justice Roberts. If I knew I was being watched by millions of people you bet I'd study that oath until the cows came home.

    Yep, seems to me if Obama messes up, it's ok, but don't anyone else do it. Guess it's just ego getting in the way on the behalf of Obama!

    January 27, 2009 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  11. Tom in Delaware

    Barely a speed bump compared to the whoopers of the past 36 years that we here in the First State have had to contend with....Biden's the kind og guy that if you just give him enough rope, he'll hang himself .

    Should be a gaffe-filled 4 years.

    January 27, 2009 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  12. Stu-Florida

    If you take life too seroiusly and not make light of certain insignificant things... you wind up in ... Alaska, as part of the Palin PAC.

    Come on... He's a kidder. Always will be. He does, however, get serious when he needs to be. That's what I like about him... one of the many things I like about him. When he says he's sorry he means it!

    January 27, 2009 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  13. Janet - Missouri

    President Obama was sensitive enough to Biden's "joke" that he tapped Biden lightly on the back and was negatively shaking his head. Of course, Biden didn't pick up on the subtle hint and kept talking. A few hours later Obama was sworn in again; this time with the exact phrasing. I can guarantee you that had he not taken the oath again, some people in this country would have said he wasn't "really" the president because of the screw-up. Obama is deadly serious about this country and its myriad problems. Biden needs to emulate the President's demeanor a little more. The "boys" can goof around when the day is over and the cameas are not rolling.

    January 27, 2009 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  14. Linda Welch

    Does anyone reading this story agree with me that Roberts was a jerk and deserved to be chided by Biden? I don't think Joe Biden should apologize. He made a true statement about the way he saw the situation. Why are we so afraid of truth? I am sorry, but I am tired of all the "Mr. Nice Guy"" comments here after 8 years of Hell with Bush and Cheney... I do not believe we should hide our anger about those eight years. Roberts (on the Supreme Court) is one of the heart breaking prices we have paid for those years. He is a right wing ideologue —pure and simple.

    January 27, 2009 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  15. Daniel, Atlanta, GA

    Although I would argue that Joe does seem more like Bush, and we may have 8 years of "Bindenisms," I do think everyone needs to lighten up a bit.

    January 27, 2009 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  16. cdmertz

    Could you please tell Joe to turn off the clown act,he only seem's to be able to go from clown to fool then back again.!

    January 27, 2009 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  17. Dennis

    The 6month disaster comment during campaign was horrible.
    I feel Joe is one of the weakest links in Obama's chain. Also including Sec of Labor, an especially bad pick!

    January 27, 2009 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  18. Currahee

    During the debates, I noticed that Joe Biden simply talks way too much. End of story.

    January 27, 2009 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  19. Brian

    I can't wait for Biden to start the Blagojevich jokes!

    January 27, 2009 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  20. Larry Houston TX

    THANK YOU......@Obama : – )

    January 27, 2009 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  21. John

    Yeah it was a joke and nothing was intended but let's face it if Bush or Cheney had made the same joke people would be calling for their blood.

    January 27, 2009 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  22. dave

    Seriously? This was a story? Are we all really that up tight?

    January 27, 2009 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  23. Solamor

    Why is everyone ignoring the part where President Obama blurted out his response before Mr. Roberts was finished stating the entire phrase? I've only seen one news article; no late-night comedians, mention that perhaps Mr. Obama's premature recitation is what threw off Mr. Roberts. No chuckling over this President's mistakes.

    January 27, 2009 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  24. Nonsense

    This is absolute nonsense! It was a simple joke. It wasn't even malicious or anything, it was simply poking fun at an incident everyone is talking about.

    Now he has to apologize for it? That shows how pathetic some people will go to make it an issue and force him to apologize about something as stupid as this.


    January 27, 2009 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  25. Jared

    Tony...I totally agree, but the only difference is that nobody whined about this. It would be one thing if Chief Justice Roberts was insulted (thankfully he has a sense of humor and wasn't) but now we are to the point that you have to apologize for everything regardless of whether or not someone without a sense of humor took offense to it. Everyone needs to just relax a bit, things are bad enough without having to apologize for every little light hearted joke.

    January 27, 2009 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
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