Six unscripted moments that have backfired on Joe Biden this election

Michael Moore has called for more ‘authentic,' ‘crazy’ Biden, but that version of the candidate has often stirred controversy.

Updated: September 3, 2020 - 11:16am

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

Filmmaker and political activist Michael Moore recently advised Democratic nominee Joe Biden to be more “authentic” and show “crazy Joe” to the public. But Biden’s unscripted moments this election have often backfired and stirred controversy.

In February, a 21-year-old economics student, Madison Moore, asked Biden at a campaign event about his loss in the Iowa caucuses, and Biden questioned if she had ever gone to a caucus in-person. When the student replied, "Yes," Biden said, "No you haven't. You're a lying, dog-faced pony soldier." The student later said Biden's comment was "humiliating" and "kind of insulting."

In March, a construction worker had a heated exchange with Biden over the candidate's stance on the Second Amendment. The man said Biden was "actively trying to end our Second Amendment right." Biden told the worker he was "full of sh**" and said, "Don't tell me that, pal, or I'm going to go outside with you, man." 

In December 2019, Biden told a man, Merle Gorman, during a town hall that he was a "damn liar" after Gorman brought up Hunter Biden's role on the board of the Ukrainian gas company Burisma Holdings during Biden's tenure as vice president. Biden then challenged the man to a push-up contest.

"Let's do push-ups together here, man," Biden said. "Let's run. Let's do whatever you want to do. Let's take an IQ test."

As the exchange came to an end, the man told Biden he wasn't going to vote for him. "Well, I knew you weren't," the 77-year-old Biden replied. "You're too old to vote for me."

During the course of that exchange, Biden also said, "But look, fat, look. Here's the deal." Biden later denied that he called the man fat. His campaign said Biden was saying the word "facts."

During an interview in May with black radio and TV personality Charlamagne the God, Biden said, "If you have a problem figuring out whether you're for me or Trump, then you ain't black." After the remark caused controversy in the black community and was criticized by political figures on both sides of the aisle, Biden issued an apology. The remark was recalled in cutting words delivered at the recent GOP convention by Daniel Cameron, the African-American attorney general of Kentucky. "Mr. Vice President, look at me," Cameron said. "I am black. We are not all the same, sir. I am not in chains. My mind is my own. And you can't tell me how to vote because of the color of my skin."

In July, Biden argued that Trump was wrong to blame the Chinese for "everything" that's resulted from the coronavirus. When making his argument, Biden said people can't distinguish between a "South Korean and someone from Beijing."

In August, Biden said there is less diversity in the black community compared to Latino communities.

"What you all know but most people don't know, unlike the African-American community with notable exceptions, the Latino community is an incredibly diverse community with incredibly different attitudes about different things," he said. "You go to Florida, you find a very different attitude about immigration in certain places than you do when you're in Arizona. So it's a very different, a very diverse community."

Later, Biden attempted to walk back the comments. "Earlier today, I made some comments about diversity in the African-American and Latino communities that I want to clarify,” he wrote on Twitter. "In no way did I mean to suggest the African American community is a monolith—not by identity, not on issues, not at all."

This week, Biden delivered a disjointed and unclear statement in Pittsburgh about the COVID-19 death toll.

"COVID has taken this year, just since the outbreak, has taken more than 100 years," he said. "Look. Here's — the lives — it's just — I mean, think about it. More lives this year than any other year, for the past hundred years."

Biden's more scripted moments, such as his presidential nomination acceptance speech, have gone over without any major gaffes.