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White House says Biden was asking for deceased congresswoman because 'she was on top of mind'

"I don't think it's all that unusual," press secretary said of gaffe.

Published: September 28, 2022 3:28pm

Updated: September 28, 2022 11:09pm

The White House on Wednesday afternoon offered its explanation for why President Biden earlier in the day called out for a dead congresswoman at an executive conference. 

Biden at the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition & Health appeared to be searching the crowd for the late Rep. Jackie Walorski, the Indiana representative who died last month in a vehicle accident.

Asked about the mistake at a press conference on Wednesday afternoon, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said the president was "acknowledging [Walorski's] incredible work" in bringing the conference to fruition before her death. 

"He had already planned to welcome the congresswoman's family to the White House on Friday," Jean-Pierre said, arguing that Walorski was "at top of mind for the president" during the conference. 

Pressed on Biden's apparent confusion at not seeing Walorski at the event, Jean-Pierre responded: "I just explained, she was on top of mind." 

Pressed even further by another reporter as to why Biden appeared to be expecting Walorski in the audience, Jean-Pierre again used the phrase "top of mind" three more times and said the conference was "such an important event" in part because of the "congressional champions" who helped bring about the event. 

"I don't think it's all that unusual" that Walorski was on Biden's mind, she said. 

Walorski died in Indiana last month as a result of a head-on car collision; her district director and communications director also died in the accident, as did the driver of the other vehicle. 

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