Biden mixes up Germany’s Angela Merkel with late Helmut Kohl

U.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks during an event at the White House in recognition of Black History Month, in Washington, U.S., February 6, 2024. REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Joe Biden mistakenly referred to a conversation he had with Angela Merkel in 2021 as having taken place with the late German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, who died in 2017, on Wednesday night, his second such mixup this week.

At a New York reception that raised money for his reelection bid, the 81-year-old Biden changed a story that is a staple of his stump speech to include Kohl instead of Angela Merkel, who was in power at the time of the reported conversation, the G7 summit in 2021.

The reference occurred when Biden was talking about the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol by supporters of then-President Donald Trump, who is running for the Republican presidential nomination this year.

“When I first got elected president, I went to a G7 meeting with the seven heads of state in Europe and Great Britain. I sat down and I said, ‘Well, America’s back’ and the president of France looked at me and said, ‘for how long?’ I never thought of it this way,” Biden said.

“Then Helmut Kohl of Germany looked at me and said, ‘What would you say Mr. President, if you picked up the London Times tomorrow morning and learned that 1,000 people had broken down the doors, the doors of the British Parliament and killed some [people] on the way in,'” Biden said.

The White House had no immediate comment about the mix-up.

Earlier this week, while talking about the 2021 G7 summit, Biden mixed up French President Emmanuel Macron with the late Francois Mitterrand, who was in power from 1981 to 1995 and died in 1996.

Trump, 77, has misidentified people as well, recently confusing Republican opponent Nikki Haley with Nancy Pelosi, the California Democrat who was speaker of the House of Representatives when he was in power.


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