Many people interpreted Biden’s words as implying that Obama was an exception among African-Americans, who were otherwise not mainstream, articulate, bright, clean, or nice-looking.
Some also questioned Biden’s use of the word clean, wondering if he meant clean-cut, morally upright, or free of scandals. Others pointed out that Biden’s comment was condescending and patronizing as if he was surprised that an African-American could possess such qualities.
Biden quickly realized that he had made a blunder and tried to clarify his statement. He said that he regretted any offense he might have caused and that he had expressed that to Obama.
He also said that his remark was taken out of context and that he meant to compliment Obama as an exciting and fresh candidate. He explained that by “clean” he was referring to an expression his mother used: clean as a whistle, sharp as a tack.
Obama, for his part, downplayed the incident and accepted Biden’s apology. He said that he had no problem with Biden and that they had more important things to worry about, such as Iraq, health care, and energy. He also said that he did not think that Biden was racist or malicious.
Despite the controversy, Biden and Obama eventually became allies and friends. In 2008, after Obama secured the Democratic nomination, he chose Biden as his vice-presidential partner.
They won the election and served two terms together, forming a close bond and a successful partnership. In 2020, Obama endorsed Biden for president and campaigned for him.
Biden won the election and became the 46th president of the United States, with Kamala Harris as his vice president, the first woman and person of color to hold that position.
Biden’s 2007 comment about Obama was not the first or the last time he made a gaffe or a faux pas. He has been known to speak his mind and sometimes say things that are inappropriate, inaccurate, or offensive.
However, he has also been praised for his honesty, empathy, and experience. He has apologized for his mistakes and tried to learn from them.
He has also shown a willingness to work with people from different backgrounds and perspectives and to champion the causes of racial justice and equality. As president, he faces many challenges and opportunities to prove his leadership and vision for the country.