US President Joe Biden on Wednesday called out for a congresswoman who had died in a car crash in early August – apparently forgetting his own statement of condolence to her family, or the tribute video that reportedly aired before the event.
“Jackie, are you here? Where’s Jackie,” he said, looking at the people attending the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health.
“She was going to be here,” he added, according to NPR. Others quoted Biden as saying “She must not be here,” based on video footage from the event.
Biden was looking for Jackie Walorski, a Republican congresswoman from Indiana who had co-sponsored the bill to fund the conference.
The reason she was not in the crowd was that she had died in a car crash on August 3 near Elkhart, Indiana – along with two members of her staff.
At the time, the White House released a statement of condolence, attributed to Biden and his wife Jill, and lowered the flags at half-staff to mark Walorski’s untimely passing. The statement even mentioned that Walorski had co-chaired the House Hunger Caucus and played a role in planning the upcoming conference.
Less than two weeks later, Congress unanimously adopted a resolution that renamed a Veterans Affairs clinic in Mishawaka, Indiana after Walorski. Biden is scheduled to sign that into law on Friday.
Moreover, a “tribute video honoring the late Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-Indiana)” was scheduled to play during the conference, according to a Politico reporter covering the White House.
A tribute video honoring the late Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.) will play during the White House conference on hunger, nutrition and health today. She was a major advocate for the effort and among a handful of Rs who stuck behind it, even when the politics grew tough.
— Meredith Lee Hill (@meredithllee) September 28, 2022
Asked about Biden’s comments, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters that Walorski was “on top of mind” for the president and that his remarks were “not unusual.”