White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was repeatedly grilled by numerous reporters during Wednesday’s press briefing over President Joe Biden (D) looking for a deceased congresswoman during an event earlier in the day.
Biden looked for deceased Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-IN) while thanking a handful of bipartisan officials for putting together the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health.
“I want to thank all of you here, including bipartisan officials like Representative McGovern, Senator Braun, Senator Booker, Representative … Jackie, are you here? Where’s Jackie?” Biden asked. “I think she must not be here.”
Walorski died in a tragic car accident back in August.
Jean-Pierre repeatedly dodged questions from reporters over Biden’s struggles in remembering that the congresswoman was no longer alive, even though he is hosting her family this week to honor her.
The following are the different exchanges that Jean-Pierre had with reporters:
REPORTER: What happened in the hunger event today? The president appeared to look around the room for an audience member, a member of Congress who passed away last month. He seemed to indicate she might be in the room. What happened there?
JEAN-PIERRE: So the president was, as you all know — you guys were watching today’s event, a very important event on food insecurity. The president was naming the congressional champions on this issue and was acknowledging her incredible work. He had — he had already planned to welcome the congresswoman’s family to the White House on Friday. There will be a bill signing in her honor this coming Friday. So, of course, she was on his mind. She was of top of mind for the president. He looks — very much looks forward to discussing her remarkable legacy of public service with them when he sees her family this coming Friday.
.@CeciliaVega: “What happened at the Hunger Event today? [Biden] appeared to look around…for…a member of Congress [Jackie Walorski] who passed away last month…What happened there?”
KJP: He “was acknowledging her incredible work…She was on his mind…top of mind” pic.twitter.com/LhEECd4QBR
— Curtis Houck (@CurtisHouck) September 28, 2022
REPORTER: He said, “Jackie, are you here? Where’s Jackie? She must not be here.”
JEAN-PIERRE: No, I totally understand. I just — I just explained she was on top of mind. You know, this wasn’t — what we were able to witness today and what the president was able to lift up in this — at this conference at this event was how her — her focus on wanting to deal with, combat food — food insecurity in America. And this is something that he was lifting up and honoring. And, again, he knows that he’s going to see her family this coming Friday. There’s a bill signing that’s going to happen in renaming a VA clinic in Indiana after the late congresswoman. He knows that he is going to see her family, and she was at top of mind.
ABC’s @CeciliaVega: “He said, ‘Jackie, are you here? Where is Jackie? She must not be here.'”
KJP: “No, I totally understand. I just–I just explained. She was on top of mind. You know, this was–what we were able to witness…at this event was…her focus on…food insecurity.” pic.twitter.com/jVri0ExX9i
— Curtis Houck (@CurtisHouck) September 28, 2022
REPORTER: And just one more quick follow-up, because I’m trying to get my head around the response. If the late congresswoman was top of mind for the president and her family was expected to be here and that’s what he was thinking about, what — why was he looking for her? I’m not trying to be snarky here. But I —
JEAN-PIERRE: No, I mean — and I’m —
REPORTER: I don’t understand the connection between what you’re saying and what he said there.
JEAN-PIERRE: And, again, I think people can understand, I think the American people out there who, you know, watch the briefing from time to time, maybe at this moment, will understand when someone is at top of mind. And — and this was such an important — such an important event, when we’re talking about hunger, when we’re talking about food insecurity, when we’re talking about these champions, these congressional champions who were in the room, who have worked in a bipartisan way. You know, we don’t talk much about bipartisan actions that we see in Congress at this time. And as he was naming folks, he — she was on top of mind, and he understands and knew that she was — he was going to see her family on Friday for this bill signing. Again, I don’t think it’s all that unusual to have someone top of mind, especially as there’s a big event — two big events — today and also Friday — that is going to occur. And so he’s going to see her family. They’re going to honor her. They’re going to celebrate her. And he will do a bill signing for this
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