Biden Poses an Unexpected Hypothetical

'Imagine what would have happened if, God forbid, if Barack Obama had been assassinated'
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 24, 2019 6:00 AM CDT
Biden Poses a Jarring Hypothetical
Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks during a campaign event at Dartmouth College, Friday, Aug. 23, 2019, in Hanover, N.H.   (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

Joe Biden had an odd, and jarring, rhetorical question for voters at a New Hampshire town hall Friday. While discussing the assassinations of his "political heroes," Robert F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr., during what NBC News calls a "meandering discussion" at the Dartmouth College event, the 2020 Democratic presidential candidate went on to say: "My senior semester, they [Kennedy and King] were both shot and killed. Imagine what would have happened if, God forbid, if Barack Obama had been assassinated after becoming the de facto nominee. What would've happened in America?" Politico refers to it as a "strange" and "out-of-nowhere" comment "at the tail-end of an otherwise normal speech," while the New York Post calls it simply "awkward."

Biden had apparently brought up the Kennedy and King assassinations as a way of discussing what motivates young people to get involved politically: "Unless I’m mistaken, Donald Trump did for your generation what the loss of two of my heroes did for mine," he said. "What they did was make you realize, my God, we’re in trouble." As for the reference to a hypothetical Obama assassination, a Biden rep explains to CNN that the candidate was simply trying to explain to young voters just how monumental the assassinations of Kennedy and King were. "He was putting into perspective, for the young folks in the room, about how traumatic the assassinations of RFK and MLK were for the country. This tweet is chasing clicks," reads one of the tweets from a Biden campaign staffer rounded up by Fox News. Just three days prior to the Dartmouth event, Biden, 76, referred to the Kennedy and King assassinations as having taken place in the 1970s; they actually took place in 1968. (More Joe Biden 2020 stories.)

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