Biden was giving his first presidential commencement address in New London, Connecticut.
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“I can only assume that you will enjoy educating your family about how the Coast Guard is, quote, ‘the hard nucleus around the Navy formed in times of war’,” Biden mumbled during the U.S. Coast Guard Academy’s 140th commencement.
When the crowd of graduates failed to applaud, Biden lost his cool and declared:
“You’re a really dull class!“
“I mean, come on, man! Is the sun getting to you?”
“I would think that you would have an opportunity, that when I say that about the Navy, to clap,” he added.
At another point in the speech, Biden also quoted communist Chinese dictator Mao Zedong to praise the large number of female graduates in the class and the increasing number of women in leading military positions. “There’s a saying we use in a different context, it’s a Chinese saying, it says, ‘Women hold up half the world.’ It’s an absolutely stupid position not to make sure they represent at least half of what we do.”
At another point in the speech, Biden struggled to recall the name of a Coast Guard lieutenant commander.
The Biden campaign had to respond last fall when video emerged showing Biden calling U.S. service members “dull” and “stupid bastards” when they neglected to clap during a speech on March 7, 2016, at a military base in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
“I have incredibly good judgment,” Biden said. “One, I married Jill, and two, I appointed Johnson to the academy. I just want you to know that,” referring to Delaware Lt. Carrie Johnson, who had introduced him to the stage.
“Clap for that, you stupid bastards,” Biden said when no one applauded. Moments later, Biden appeared to say that the soldiers were “a dull bunch” and that they “must be slow.”
The Biden campaign responded to the resurfaced video, explaining that Biden was simply joking.
“Vice President Biden was jokingly encouraging the audience to clap for an airwoman on the stage, and a number of service members can be seen laughing and smiling at the comment. Seconds before, he praised them for ‘the incredible sacrifices [they] make for our country,’” Biden campaign spokesperson Andrew Bates said to The Daily Beast. “He thanked them for their patriotism and courage throughout, and closed his remarks by saying, ‘you’re the finest generation of warriors the world has ever, ever known’—receiving an enthusiastic ovation.”
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