The White House’s cleanup of President Biden’s statement that the COVID-19 pandemic is “over” is only the latest example of the administration walking back his off-the-cuff remarks.
Biden made his remarks during his interview on CBS’ 60 Minutes on Sunday, his first with an American TV journalist in over 200 days. When asked if the pandemic was over, Biden told CBS correspondent Scott Pelley, “The pandemic is over. We still have a problem with COVID. We’re still doing a lot of work on it. It’s – but the pandemic is over.”
White House officials quickly rushed to clarify his words, with one member of the administration noting that “the President’s comments do not mark a change in policy toward the administration’s handling of the virus, and there are no plans to lift the Public Health Emergency.”
Biden’s words were also acknowledged by White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre and Dr. Anthony Fauci.
Jeani-Pierre told MSNBC that Biden was only speaking in the context of the Detroit Auto Show, where Biden made the comment, and did not mean the fight against the pandemic was actually over.
“Just to step back for a second, when he made those comments, he was walking through the Detroit car show, the halls of the Detroit car show, and he was looking around. We have to remember that the last time that they had held that event was three years ago,” she said.
“What he really meant is that the very severe stage of the pandemic of having… 3,000 deaths a day — that stage is no longer present,” Fauci told Politico, adding that “people should not be cavalier that we’re out of the woods.”
The White House was also pushed to walk back another comment made by Biden during the very same “60 Minutes” interview. During the sit-down with correspondent Scott Pelley, Biden was asked if the U.S. would defend the island of Taiwan in the event of an attempted takeover by China.
“Yes, if in fact there was an unprecedented attack,” Biden responded, before emphasizing the administration’s commitment to the “One China” policy that doesn’t officially recognize an independent Taiwan.
National security adviser Jake Sullivan walked back Biden’s comments on Tuesday, claiming he was merely answering a hypothetical question and that it did not reflect the official U.S. policy.
“When the President of the United States wants to announce a policy change, he will do so. He has not done so,” Sullivan said.
But, Biden’s foreign policy blunder has cropped up in a number of instances, leading to an official comment from the administration.
Biden has made similar comments about Taiwan in at least three other instances. In August 2021, Biden listed Taiwan as one of America’s closest allies that the U.S. would be willing to defend. Two months later, Biden said the U.S. had a “commitment” to defend Taiwan during a CNN town hall. He made a similar comment back in May while traveling overseas to Tokyo, Japan.
Biden has also made several comments with regard to the Russia-Ukraine war that prompted White House intervention.
In March, Biden delivered a speech from the Royal Castle in Warsaw, Poland, where he raised eyebrows when he directly called for Vladimir Putin’s removal from power.
“For God’s sake, this man cannot remain in power,” Biden said during a speech.
Shortly after Biden’s address however, the White House denied he was calling for regime change.
“The President’s point was that Putin cannot be allowed to exercise power over his neighbors or the region. He was not discussing Putin’s power in Russia, or regime change,” a White House official told Fox News Digital shortly after the speech concluded.
Biden also said in late May that the U.S. would not send rocket systems to Ukraine with the capability to reach Russia, after reports claimed the administration was preparing to send long-range weapon systems to the country.
Following his comments, a senior administration official appeared to differ from Biden’s words, noting that there has been no decision yet on sending multiple launch rocket systems to Ukraine.
“MLRS is under consideration, but nothing is on the table with long-range strike capabilities,” the administration official said.
On July 8, 2021, Biden assured Americans there would be “no circumstance” in which the Taliban would storm the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, during the U.S. withdrawal of troops.
But, according to a list of talking points for allies defending the president’s handling of the withdrawal, the White House said the administration knew there was a “distinct” possibility the capital city would fall.
The list of talking points sent to congressional Democrats, obtained by Fox News, declared the administration “knew that there was a distinct possibility that Kabul would fall to the Taliban. It was not an inevitability. It was a possibility.”
During the first month of his presidency, Biden also claimed his administration was shooting to get 150 million coronavirus vaccines in American arms within his first 100 days in office, an increase of 50 million from the previous goal.
However, then-White House press secretary Jen Psaki claimed Biden was merely expressing a “hope” to vaccinate 150 million Americans, rather than an official administrative goal.
Biden, who had gone seven months without a major American network-televised interview before his Sunday sit-down, has been notably less accessible to the press since his term in office began.
Last May, Psaki revealed that Biden’s communications team frequently advises him to avoid impromptu questions from reporters.
“That is not something we recommend. In fact, a lot of times we say, ‘Don’t take questions,'” Psaki admitted, but noted that he frequently defies their guidance.
White House officials have in the past said that that further clarification on comments made by the president, are not in fact walk backs by Biden or his administration, but rather “clarifications.”
Fox News’ Jessica Chamer and Tyler O’Neil contributed to this report.