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• Critics of President Joe Biden accused him of reading directions from his teleprompter when he said “repeat the line” during a July 8 speech announcing executive actions on abortion access.
• A copy of the teleprompter’s speech file shows the phrase “let me repeat the line” was an intended part of Biden’s remarks.
• Biden didn’t say “let me” in the widely shared clip from the speech, but he did use the phrases several other times during the event.
President Joe Biden signed an executive order July 8 aimed at protecting abortion rights nationwide following the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.
In his remarks announcing the executive order, Biden said something that led critics to charge that he’d read out loud stage directions from a teleprompter.
The moment occurred about six minutes into Biden’s remarks, as he quoted from the court's majority opinion on ending the federally protected right to an abortion.
"One of the most extraordinary parts of the decision in my view is the majority writes, and I quote, ‘Women … ’ — it’s a quote now, from the majority — ‘women are not without electoral or political power. It is noteworthy that the percentage of women who registered to vote and cast a ballot is consistently higher than the percentage of the men who do so.’ End of quote," Biden said.
Biden immediately followed by saying "repeat the line" and quoting the opinion again.
Social media users jumped on the phrase, claiming it was supposed to have been an instruction included in the teleprompter rather than part of his speech.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk compared the incident to the movie "Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy" in which the protagonist had his own teleprompter gaffe.
White House assistant press secretary Emilie Simons said Biden intended to say "let me repeat the line" in his speech. Simons cited a White House transcript that featured the phrase.
However, Biden can’t be heard saying "let me" before "repeat the line" in the video of his remarks.
Biden commonly says phrases involving "let me." In his abortion remarks that day, Biden said at various points:
• "Let me say it again … "
• "Let me explain …"
• "And let me be clear … "
• "Let me say that again … "
• "Let me tell you something … "
• "You know, let me close with this … "
Simons provided PolitiFact with a copy of the teleprompter speech file that included "let me repeat the line."
The pattern suggests Biden skipped the words "let me" in the viral clip, rather than that he was reading a stage direction.
Critics have repeatedly jumped on Biden’s verbal blunders, aiming to paint the 79-year-old as mentally incapable of holding the presidency.
In 2021, a video clip promoted by conservatives showed Biden saying, "Because of the actions we have taken, things have begun to change. End of quote." However, the video was deceptively edited, and omitted that Biden was directly quoting a CEO, saying at the beginning of the CEO’s statement, "He said, and I quote…."
"Look, the mistakes I make are mistakes," Biden said then. "And some people think I still stutter, I don't think of myself that way."
YouTube, President Biden Delivers Remarks on Protecting Access to Reproductive Health Care Services, July 8, 2022
Greg Price, Twitter post, July 8, 2022
Archive of July 8, 2022 Twitter post
Elon Musk, Twitter post, July 8, 2022
Archive of July 8, 2022 Twitter post
The White House, Remarks by President Biden on Protecting Access to Reproductive Health Care Services, July 8, 2022
Email interview with White House Assistant Press Secretary Emilie Simons, July 8, 2022
USA Today, "Biden was quoting Walmart US CEO when he said 'end of quote' during speech," Dec. 6, 2021
PolitiFact, "Biden’s verbal blunders: Separating the real from the fake," Oct. 5, 2020
The Atlantic, What Joe Biden can’t bring himself to say, January 2020
Axios, "Biden: Stuttering not to blame for verbal screwups," Dec. 8, 2019