Biden confuses Macron with dead French president Mitterrand in campaign speech

President Joe Biden appeared to confuse French President Emmanuel Macron with Francois Mitterrand, the former president of France who died in 1996, during a campaign speech on Sunday.

The mix-up occurred during a campaign event in Las Vegas, where Mr Biden told an anecdote about a meeting with G7 leaders back in June 2021.

The 81-year-old president recounted how he told the meeting in Cornwall that “America is back”, which prompted a response from “Mitterrand from Germany”, before correcting it to “from France”.

“Mitterrand from Germany — I mean, from France — looked at me and said, ‘You know, what … why … how long you back for?” Mr Biden said.

He added that the conversation then turned to the January 6 attack on the US Capitol, with then-chancellor of Germany, Angela Merkel, comparing it to the hypothetical storming of Parliament in Britain.

“I never thought about it from that perspective. What would we say if that happened in another democracy around the world,” he recounted.

Mr Biden’s gaffe was corrected on the official White House record, which published his remarks with the name “Mitterrand” crossed out and replaced with “Macron”.

President Joe Biden on Sunday appeared to confuse French president Emmanuel Macron with Francois Mitterrand


“And Mitterrand [Macron], from Germany — I mean, from France looked at me and said — said, ‘You know, what — why — how long you back for?” the official transcript of the speech read.

Mr Biden met Mr Mitterrand in January 1988 during a meeting of the European Affairs Committee, seven years after he became the French president in 1981.

Mr Mitterrand was president until 1995, and died a year later, aged 79.

Mr Biden’s gaffe marks the latest in a growing list during the president’s high-profile speeches – to the extent that he has nicknamed himself a “gaffe machine”.

In June 2023, the president muddled up the ongoing war in Ukraine for the Iraq War, which ended in 2011.

In the same month, Mr Biden made another verbal gaffe when he bizarrely closed out a speech on gun control with the proclamation: “God save the Queen, man.”

The White House later sought to explain away the bizarre reference by saying that he was merely “commenting to someone in the crowd”.

Meanwhile, the president had another gaffe in June last year when he met with UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and accidentally called him by his own moniker: “Mr President.”

Mr Biden’s many gaffes have been capitalised on by his political rivals, including 77-year-old Donald Trump, who claimed the president “can’t put two sentences together and he’s in charge of nuclear warfare” at an event in October.

Mr Trump also trolled president Mr Biden last month with a spoof advert depicting the White House as a “senior living” establishment where “residents feel like presidents”.

However, Mr Trump, who is just four years younger than the president, has also faced questions over his own age and mental competency.

“This is a different Donald Trump than 2015 and ’16 – lost the zip on his fastball,” Florida Governor Ron DeSantis told reporters during a visit to New Hampshire last year.

Mr DeSantis also launched an “accident tracker” to catalogue Mr Trump’s various gaffes – while he was competing with him for the Republican presidential nomination – the latest of which occurred last month when he appeared to mix-up his only Republican challenger Nikki Haley with former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi while discussing the January 6 Capitol riots.

Mr Biden later mocked Mr Trump for the gaffe, writing on X: “I don’t agree with Nikki Haley on everything, but we agree on this much: She is not Nancy Pelosi.”

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