‘Are you going nuts?’ Joe Biden quips about his gaffes with Stephen Colbert

Then-Vice President Joe Biden laughs during a 2015 taping of "The Late Show With Stephen Colbert."
(John Paul Filo / Associated Press)

For the first time since announcing his presidential run, former Vice President Joe Biden appeared Wednesday on late-night TV, where host Stephen Colbert was ready with jokes about the candidate’s verbal foibles.

During the more than 20-minute interview on “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert,” the two poked fun at Biden’s long list of gaffes.

“In the last few weeks you’ve confused New Hampshire for Vermont, said Bobby K. and MLK were assassinated in the late ’70s, assured us ‘I’m not going nuts,’” Colbert reminded a grimacing Biden. (This starts at the 13:45 mark in the video.)


“Follow-up question: Are you going nuts?” Colbert asked.

After a brief pause, Biden ran with the joke: “The reason I came on the Jimmy Kimmel show is because I’m not.”

After noting that everyone has the right to criticize politicians, Biden made one point.

“Any gaffe that I have made — and I’ve made gaffes like any politician I know has — have been not about a substantive issue,” he said. He later added that he doesn’t “get wrong things like, you know, we should lock kids up in cages at the border,” referring to President Trump’s immigration policies, which have led to the separation of migrant children from their parents at the southern border.

Biden also discussed his third attempt at the presidency, saying he decided to run in 2017 after watching the white-nationalist events unfold in Charlottesville, Va., and the president’s subsequent “very fine people on both sides” reaction.

“I really do believe that we’re in a place we haven’t been in a long, long time, and the president’s taken us there,” Biden said. “We have to restore the soul of this country.”

He seemed keenly aware of what he sees as the damage Trump has done.

“The problems the next president is going to inherit are fundamentally different than just going back to a pre-Trump era,” he said. “We’ve dissed our allies, we’ve embraced our enemies, we’re in a position where we no longer lead by the power of our example at home, we’re in a situation where people have been divided against based on race and religion and ethnicity.”

When Biden appeared on Colbert’s show in 2015, the host encouraged him to run for president. At the time, Biden was still grappling with the death of his son from brain cancer.


“You said I should run, so that’s why I’m running,” Biden quipped to Colbert on Wednesday night. “It’s your fault.”

Former President Obama — with whom Biden talks every few weeks — also came up in the conversation.

When asked if he would appoint the former commander-in-chief to the Supreme Court, Biden responded with no hesitation: “Yes. I don’t think he’d do it ... but he’s fully qualified.”

And when Colbert inquired whether he’d gotten advice from Michelle Obama, Biden responded: “Only to be my vice president.”

Joe Biden considered running with Elizabeth Warren in 2016, although their storied battle over bankruptcy policy has left scars more than a decade later.

Sept. 5, 2019