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The White House confirmed Sunday that President Joe Biden’s call for regime change was not part of his prepared speech.
“For God’s sake, this man cannot remain in power,” Biden said at the conclusion of his speech, referring to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Biden’s quip prompted administration officials to scramble and walk back his comment in an effort to reassure the world that the United States was not calling for regime change in Russia.
Axios cites “a top official” who confirmed the line was not on Biden’s prepared text or on his teleprompter. The Washington Post cited “a person familiar with the speech” who also said Biden’s line was not planned.
During the 2020 presidential campaign, Biden repeatedly campaigned on the idea that he would be a better president than President Donald Trump because of his understanding of the gravity of the presidency.
“You all know that the words of a president matters,” he said in Iowa in 2019. “They can move markets, they can send our brave women and men into war they can bring peace, they can calm a nation in turmoil.”
But Biden has repeatedly made rhetorical errors during his trip to Europe.
On Friday, Biden suggested American troops were on their way to Ukraine before the White House clarified his remarks. On Thursday, Biden vowed to respond “in-kind” if Putin decided to use chemical weapons, prompting the White House to explain the United States would not use chemical weapons.
Biden has not addressed his controversial off-the-cuff statement, even as his administration struggles to walk it back.
“We do not have a strategy of regime change in Russia or anywhere else, for that matter. In this case, as in any case, it’s up to the people of the country in question. It’s up to the Russian people,” Secretary of State Tony Blinken said at a news conference in Jerusalem.