Former Vice President Joe Biden finally made it official on Thursday — he is running for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination in 2020.
But the self-admitted “gaffe machine” wasted no time in tripping over his own tongue as he uttered a line to reporters that many have described as an attack on gays.
The Gaffe Machine
Biden spoke with a group of reporters shortly after he publicly announced his candidacy when one of them asked if he had a “message for the rest of world.”
“Yes,” he said. “America is coming back like we used to be: ethical, straight, telling the truth…supporting our allies. All those good things.”
Take a look:
Make America Straight Again?
Biden’s use of the phrase, “America is coming back,” was reminiscent of President Donald Trump’s 2016 rallying cry, “Make America Great Again” — a similarity that garnered some attention among the media.
But it was the former vice president’s use of the word “straight” to describe an ideal America that really raised some eyebrows among LGBTQ advocates.
Indeed, Biden’s use of the word was viewed by some as a subtle dig at the openly gay South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who in recent weeks has surged in popularity as a 2020 hopeful.
It also renewed speculation about Biden’s support of the gay community.
While he was lauded for standing in favor of gay marriage even before former President Barack Obama publicly supported it, Biden has a sticky past when it comes to the issue.
In 1973, he reportedly even believed gays might pose a security risk to the U.S., saying in an informal setting: “My gut reaction is that they are security risks, but I must admit I haven’t given this much thought.”
In all likelihood, Biden meant to use the word “straight” in an innocent way. Indeed, most definitions describe the term as maintaining a direct course, speaking candidly, or being honest and fair.
But in what could have been construed as offensive — particularly amid Biden’s competition with Buttigieg for the 2020 nomination — the term also refers to not deviating from generally accepted, conventional behaviors, and of course, it’s used commonly nowadays as a synonym for “heterosexual.”
With that in mind, Biden’s choice to insinuate that America should return to its “straight” roots has likely cost him a few points among Democrats ahead of next year’s primaries — and with the self-proclaimed “gaffe machine” now officially in the spotlight, there’s surely more missteps to come.