Biden Confuses Mask Mandate With Title 42 in Latest Gaffe

Asked by a reporter if he plans to delay lifting Title 42, Biden responded as if he’d been asked about a judge’s ruling on masks.

President Joe Biden mixed up the federal mask mandate with pandemic-related border controls on Thursday, temporarily causing confusion about his response to key issues facing his administration.

Asked by a reporter whether he plans to delay lifting a policy, known as Title 42, that allows most migrants to be quickly turned away at the border, Biden responded as if he’d been asked about a judge’s ruling Monday striking down the federal government’s mask requirement on public transportation. 

“No, what I’m considering is continuing to hear from my -- well, first of all, there’s going to be an appeal by the Justice Department, because as a matter of principle we want to be able to be in a position where if in fact, it is strongly concluded by the scientists that we need Title 42 that we be able to do that. But there has been no decision on extending Title 42,” Biden said.

A short time later, the White House issued a statement from Biden clarifying that he was referring to the mask mandate, not Title 42, in his answer. Both issues have received widespread media coverage and are subjects of top concern in the administration.

Biden has long had a reputation for verbal gaffes, but at age 79, he has faced questions about his mental fitness for office and whether he’ll seek re-election. He brushed off those concerns during a lengthy January news conference, telling a reporter, “I’ll let you all make the judgment whether they’re correct.”

In a February interview, Biden mistakenly said that Russian President Vladimir Putin was “just going to invade Russia” before quickly correcting himself. During his March 1 State of the Union address, the president accidentally called Ukrainians “the Iranian people.”

Last month, he said that Putin “cannot remain in power,” an unscripted aside that escalated tensions with the Kremlin. He and the White House later clarified the comment, saying Biden was not describing a U.S. policy to seek regime change in Russia.

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