January 28th, 2009
10:40 AM ET
11 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. Mark Lane

    Biden is a smart aleck–the opposite of a diplomat. The recently revealed news that Obama had offered Biden his choice of Secretary of State or VP makes me question Obama's good judgement. Biden's choice of the VP job makes me question Biden's good judgement. Being "a good man" is no excuse for being a fool.

    January 27, 2009 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  2. kevin

    this man must resign his office.

    January 27, 2009 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  3. Mary Kay

    Joe – can I call you Joe?
    You are down to earth and real. While Pres Obama might not have been thrilled with what you said – Roberts should have known the oath by heart. If he was nervous, well, he should have used cue cards.

    Still luv ya.

    January 27, 2009 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  4. Mark

    Had he been the center of microscopic attention that Pail had during the campaign, we surely would have had lots of question marks on this guy. Scary!

    January 27, 2009 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  5. Amy

    I can't believe anyone would seriously take offense at what so clearly was a lighthearted jab. The inaugural flub was covered so exhaustively by the media and Biden's remark was a reminder that there is room for levity even at the most solemn moments. The ability to goodnaturedly tease and joke helps to ease so many social occasions and it's obvious that Joe Biden is comfortable with his peers. I find his natural and easy going jokes a sign of confidence and am glad every word out of his mouth is not studied and rehearsed. Lighten up people!

    January 27, 2009 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  6. EVOLVE

    THAT IS WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU PUT A BUSH APPOINTED PERSON IN AN IMPORTATNT POSITION SUCH AS US CHIEF JUSTICE. ROBERTS CAN'T EVEN PRESENT THE PRESIDENTAL OATH IN THE CORRECT MANNER.

    GREAT! BUSH STILL HAUNTS US.

    January 27, 2009 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  7. Joe Biden

    You should have seen Barack's face when I made that comment!

    January 27, 2009 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  8. Bob

    I'm a Republican but I'm now supportive of Obama and Biden (to a degree anyway) and I certainly do NOT hope they fail. I agree this wasn't a big deal (the joke) and it's not really newsworthy, but I'd ask those of you who also say it isn't a big deal the following question: If it were Cheney instead of Biden that said it, would you still be so magnanimous, or would you be flinging mean-spirited comments his way? And don't say "well, he would deserve it". It's time to put the rancor aside...for all of us.

    January 27, 2009 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  9. Lois

    Obama is sending Biden out of the country as his punishment. You could tell from the look on O's face that he was not a happy camper with Joe-Joe.

    He didn't take the Secy of State job because there was too much travel but since he screwed up, he is being made to travel as his punishment.

    January 27, 2009 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  10. west coast

    Oops, I mis-spoke. Public opinion, a least in here, thinks that it was only a joke, nothing to fuss about. Ray Fisher said it well, he had the same humor, "we simply never have matured…" (satirically speaking for Ray?)
    Readers' opinion: If it is alright for me to crack jokes, it is alright for the VP, at any occasion.

    January 27, 2009 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  11. Jesus Praising, Freedom Loving American Patriot

    At least he has to guts to apologize for his mistakes...unlike other Veeps.

    January 27, 2009 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  12. Angelina

    Lighten up! VP Joe Biden must be close to perfect if we have noting else to be critical of. Joe and his wife Jill are a breath of fresh air, both with a good sense of humour. Bless them both! Can't believe we have a news headline about such a comment – are we a little too dull, or just plain boring?

    January 27, 2009 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  13. dickasonjr

    Joe Biden is a caricature of a vaudeville hack. I'm waiting for him to pull out the seltzer water bottle and give the up-tight Pres a schpritz down his pants. What a gag! Yep, we all just need to lighten up.

    January 27, 2009 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  14. Super

    No big deal, but it is worth pointing out how the kid gloves are used for Obama/Biden but had it been Bush or Cheney there would have been a hailstorm of criticism and calls for impeachment.

    January 27, 2009 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  15. Dan

    Bah It's no big deal – I'm sure by the time Joe called Justice Roberts had already forgotten all about it!

    January 27, 2009 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  16. lori

    Oh I love Joe. He had no malice intent. Was just a lil humorous quip. I was hoping we, as a country, would be able to lighten up a little bit after 8 years of h* **. Especially since the inaugural benediction was so light hearted and humorous I really hoped we were on a new course.

    January 27, 2009 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  17. SC resident

    That comment was in poor taste.... He should know better than to make it.

    January 27, 2009 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  18. Travis

    Anyone who would find this insulting has skin thinner than thin.

    January 27, 2009 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  19. Mike Dallas

    Roberts did screw it up and Biden is older so he can joke about problems with memory!

    Besides, it was funny!

    January 27, 2009 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  20. Jenn

    I guess one has to have no sense of humor once they reach the upper levels of government. No wonder these politicians end up being woefully out of touch! Shame on everyone who made this a bigger deal then it warrented.

    January 27, 2009 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  21. Christian

    I think Obama set the right tone by not laughing along, but rather with a stern serious stance Obama insisted to his vp that this isn't going to be "that type" of administration. We've got too much work to do, to make this seem like one big party! Now let's get to work!

    January 27, 2009 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  22. Joyce in Florida

    Yes, it is time to lighten up. Especially after the joke of the last 8 years; with all due respect.

    January 27, 2009 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  23. Romney2012

    Biden should apologize for HIMSELF; for he's a huge joke

    January 27, 2009 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  24. Adam

    It was funny. Grow some thick skin. Jeez

    January 27, 2009 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  25. Dan

    Both Barack and Biden are jokers. Get a life.

    January 27, 2009 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
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