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White House Continues Trying to Undo Biden's Europe Gaffes

Brendan Smialowski, Pool via AP

With just nine words uttered on Saturday, President Biden turned what was already a gaffe-filled trip into something more resembling an international incident, and even after Biden returned to Washington, D.C., his administration continued trying to tamp down his escalatory remarks that contradicted previously stated policies.

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"For God’s sake, this man cannot remain in power," Biden said toward the end of his speech in Warsaw on Saturday capping off an often incoherent series of remarks while in Europe to supposedly project American strength and solidarity with European allies. 

Biden's statement — apparently an off-the-cuff moment not written in his prepared remarks — about Putin being in power caused the biggest headache for, and most scrambling by, his administration.

While some characterized Biden's apparent call for regime change in Russia as "a gaffe from the heart," the rest of the administration showed that it was more than a gaffe. Even after Biden was back at the White House on Sunday, his Secretary of State Antony Blinken was doing cleanup during events in the Middle East. 

"With regard to the President's incredibly powerful speech yesterday, I think the President- the White House- made the point last night that, quite simply, President Putin cannot be empowered to wage war or engage in aggression against Ukraine or anyone else," Blinken said on Sunday. "As you know, and as you've heard us say repeatedly, we do not have a strategy of regime change in Russia or anywhere else for that matter," the Secretary of State claimed, despite the President saying the opposite and not being anywhere near that nuanced in his statement. 

Blinken's focus on cleaning up for President Biden — taking attention away from other U.S. priorities abroad — came after the White House scrambled to set the record straight on Saturday. Attributed only to "an official," the West Wing dispatched a statement claiming "The president’s point was that Putin cannot be allowed to exercise power over his neighbors or the region. He was not discussing Putin’s power in Russia or regime change." Except, again, that's not what Biden said. 

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Even CNN noted Biden's trip was filled with "big gaffes" and The Washington Post pointed out that it was Biden who frequently said on the campaign trail that "the words of a president matter" as an attack on President Trump.

As The Post reminded:

During his presidential campaign, President Biden often reminded his audience about the heavy weight that the words of a president can carry.

“The words of a president matter,” he said more than once. “They can move markets. They can send our brave men and women to war. They can bring peace.”

They can also, as Biden discovered on Saturday, spark a global uproar in the middle of a war.

With nine ad-libbed words at the end of a 27-minute speech, Biden created an unwanted distraction...

No kidding. Biden's trip to Europe is yet another reminder of the buyers' remorse anyone who fell for Biden's promises — to have a plan to shut down COVID, strengthen America's relationships with its allies, and be a consistent leader in a changing world — is sure to have. 

The Post continued by underscoring the work facing the Biden administration as it continues to do cleanup for... Joe Biden: "It is unclear what the full impact of the comment may be in coming days" as a new week begins for Biden in Washington, Putin in Moscow, and Ukrainians under Russia's onslaught. 

Biden's comment "likely signals to Putin what he already suspected about Biden’s true feelings, and it almost certainly will be used as part of Russia’s propaganda," the Post said of Biden's apparent in-kind gift to the Kremlin's propagandists. "Biden’s comment was particularly striking because his administration has taken pains to avoid even implying that regime change is a goal of the Western response to Russia’s aggression," the report continues. "The bigger worry may be that, in the short term, Biden’s rhetoric could escalate tensions and make any diplomatic off-ramp harder to find."

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That reality seems to be something of which Biden is apparently now aware. On Sunday after returning to Washington, Biden was asked whether he was calling for regime change in Russia. "No," was his answer, despite his declaration that Putin could not remain in power. 

The statement about Putin's future as the President of Russia was one of at least three that contradicted his administration's previously stated positions in regard to Vladimir Putin and America's response to Russia's war on Ukraine. As Katie reported, Biden also said in remarks to U.S. service members that "you're going to see when you're there," in a line about what's going on in Ukraine, apparently mistakenly talking about what troops would see in Ukraine. His administration has maintained that American personnel would not be sent to fight in Ukraine. 

At another point, Biden told reporters that U.S. sanctions on Russia were not meant as a deterrent — an exasperated outburst — that directly contradicted what the administration has been saying for more than one month about the purpose of financial penalties levied on Putin's regime, as Townhall covered here

In another less serious but nevertheless concerning episode, Biden confused "General- Secretary of State" Antony Blinken with his Secretary of Defense, Lloyd Austin.  

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