Vice President Joe Biden stunned attendants at a three-day White House Summit on Countering Violent Extremism Tuesday with his puzzling comments about Somali cab drivers.
Speaking before representatives of about 60 countries attending the summit, Biden said, "If you ever come to the train station with me, you’ll notice that I have great relationships with them because there’s an awful lot of them driving cabs and are friends of mine, for real," Politico reported.
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For many of those present, Biden's off-the-cuff remarks brought back memories of his earlier gaffes, common enough to be termed "Bidenisms." They include a comment about Indian-Americans in 2006, when he said, "I’ve had a great relationship. In Delaware, the largest growth in population is Indian-Americans moving from India. You cannot go to a 7-Eleven or a Dunkin’ Donuts unless you have a slight Indian accent. I’m not joking," CBS News reported.
And, in 2007, Biden said of President Barack Obama, "I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy. I mean, that's a storybook, man," CNN reported.
Biden, 72, also recently raised eyebrows with his "touchy-feely" actions toward Stephanie Carter, new Defense Secretary Ash Carter's wife, during Carter's swearing-in ceremony, when Biden approached her from behind, placed both hands on her shoulders and leaned over to whisper in her ear for 20 seconds, the Star Tribune reported.
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Politico noted that the Somali comments especially caused a reaction because two Somali men were charged with aiding the Islamic State (ISIS) in November in Minnesota.
The Daily Caller reported
that last year it was estimated that 15 Somali Muslims from Minnesota had traveled to the Middle East to join ISIS, and that Liban Haji Mohamed, a former Washington, D.C., cab driver of Somali descent, had wound up on the FBI's Most Wanted Terrorists List for allegedly supporting Al Shabaab, a group linked to al-Qaida in Somalia.
Biden, who has hinted he may try a run for the Democratic nomination for president in 2016, even added that his comments were, "For real. I'm not being solicitous. I'm being serious," the Huffington Post reported.
"Nationally, Biden is just regarded as almost a novelty," Kyle Kondik, political analyst at the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia, said, the Star Tribune reported.
"It cuts two ways. He gets away with some stuff that others might not get away with, but it also makes him seem like a less serious person than he'd like to be."
Biden told the summit, "National security flows from a sense of community," adding, "inclusion counts," The Associated Press reported.
"We haven't always gotten it right but we have a lot of experience integrating communities into the American system, the American dream."
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