Joe Biden repeated the same story twice within minutes at a private fundraising event in New York, sparking further concerns about his age.
The story was one the 80-year-old president tells often about how events in Charlottesville, Virginia in 2017, and the reaction of Donald Trump, inspired him to run for the White House.
On Aug 11, 2017, white supremacists and neo-Nazis descended on the city and clashes continued into the following day.
Biden, who was in New York for the United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday, attended a fundraising gathering hosted by food security expert Amy Goldman Fowler at her home.
According to a White House pool report of the private event he began speaking just after 4 p.m. in a living room in front of about two dozen people.
After briefly talking about his economic record he reflected on his decision to seek the presidency and ‘talked about the events of Charlottesville’ as the reason for his campaign, the report said.
”A few minutes later, he told the story again, nearly word for word,’ the report went on.
A spokesman for the Republican National Committee, commenting sarcastically on the report, said: ‘This is completely fine.’
Steve Guest, a former spokesman for Republican senator Ted Cruz, added: “This is normal…completely normal.’
He has made a series of recent gaffes, including at the United Nations where he bumped into a Brazilian flag and then seemingly wandered off a stage failing to shake hands with Brazil’s president.
During remarks at the gathering hosted by billionaire real estate heiress Amy Goldman Fowler, the 80-year-old president recounted how he was enjoying retirement after two terms as Barack Obama’s vice president when “along came, in August of 2017, Charlottesville, Virginia.
“You remember those folks walking out of the fields literally carrying torches, with Nazi swastikas, holding them forward, singing the same vicious, antisemitic bile — the same exact bile — bile that was sung in — in Germany in the early ‘30s. And a young woman was killed. A young woman was killed.”
Biden went on to say, according to an official White House transcript, that “the former guy [then-President Donald Trump] was asked, ‘What do you think would happen?’ He was the sitting president. And he said, ‘I thought there were some very fine people on both sides.’ And I mean this sincerely, from the bottom of my heart, that’s when I decided I — I was going to run again.”
After the president recounted how his extended family urged him to challenge Trump, he then began to tell the story all over again.
According to medical experts, repeating sentences, phrases, and even entire stories — while common in the elderly — may be an early sign of dementia or even an early warning sign of Alzheimer’s disease.
Biden has routinely stumbled while making public statements, with his allies chalking those incidents up to a chronic stutter.
However, other occasions have led to charges that the commander-in-chief is not cognitively fit to serve a second four-year term.
In July, for example, Biden stared at notecards on his lap while welcoming Israeli President Isaac Herzog to the Oval Office rather than look the head of state in the face.
In September last year, Biden asked Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.) to stand and be recognized during an event, apparently forgetting that Walorski had died in a car crash the previous month — and that he had issued a statement marking her passing.
In a recently published book about Biden’s White House, author Franklin Foer revealed that the president has difficulty quickly recalling people’s names and will privately admit to feeling tired.