President Biden on Monday inexplicably said he and the prime minister of the Cook Islands are from Baltimore, even though neither seems to have any roots in the Maryland city.
The bizarre outburst came as Mr. Biden welcomed the leaders of South Pacific lands to Washington for the two-day U.S.-Pacific Island Forum Summit.
As part of the confab, Mr. Biden announced the U.S. will establish diplomatic relations with the Cook Islands and Niue to help blunt growing Chinese influence in the South Pacific.
Speaking alongside Cook Islands Prime Minister Mark Brown, Mr. Biden listed why the two nations would benefit from diplomatic ties. Then he declared they were both from Baltimore.
“The real reason is we are both from Baltimore, but that’s a long story,” Mr. Biden said, putting his hand on the shoulder of Mr. Brown, who laughed nervously.
Mr. Biden was born in Scranton, Pennsylvania, and moved to Delaware at age 11 when his family relocated for his dad’s job. He then served as a senator from Delaware for over 30 years until becoming vice president in the Obama administration.
There is no public record of him living or attending school in Baltimore or the surrounding suburbs.
Mr. Brown was born in the Cook Islands in 1963 and attended school in New Zealand. There is no record of him living or spending a significant portion of his life in the U.S., much less Baltimore.
The Baltimore claim was the most jaw-dropping of a series of gaffes in Mr. Biden‘s remarks, including a moment where he confused Mr. Brown‘s title and struggled to remember the name of America’s Pacific Island Strategic Infrastructure Initiative.
“We are working with Congress to invest $40 million in our Pacific Island’s Infrastructure Initiative. We call it the PG — PI — anyways it doesn’t matter what we call it, but that’s what it is,” the president said. “I was going to get back to acronyms … but I’m not doing that.”
At the end of Mr. Biden‘s remarks, he appeared confused about whether the next to speak would be Mr. Brown or Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
“I think I’m turning this over to the Cook Islands or am I turning it over to you?” the president asked Mr. Blinken, who nodded that Mr. Brown was next to speak.
“Mr. President, uh, Mr. Prime Minister, the floor is yours,” Mr. Biden said, confusing Mr. Brown‘s title.