Joe Biden's Democratic debate word salad gives plenty to chew on

Poppy Noor in New York

For those who believe that a good leader must be a good orator, there is one contradiction that stands in their way: Joe Biden. Biden, in short, can’t really speak. Oftentimes, it is hard to make out exactly what his point is. And yet, he leads the polls for the Democratic nomination.

Related: Democratic debate takeaways: Buttigieg unscathed as candidates focus on impeachment

Biden’s faux-pas and fluffing of words used to be endearing. But recently, he has reached epic levels of word salad. In the last two Democratic debates, you would be forgiven for thinking that Biden was brought on stage unexpectedly, and rudely interrupted while he was busy thinking about bigger questions. Like whether it’s the S or the C that’s silent in the word scent.

Photograph: Alex Wong/Getty Images

In case you’ve been itching to know what Biden’s latest non-responses are, look no further. We have compiled a list of his worst word salads from last night’s debate for you here.

Punching domestic violence

Asked what he would do to address the problem of sexual violence and harassment against women in America, Biden had a very strange response.

He would punch it. Not just once, not twice, but three times:

“We have to just change the culture, period, and keep punching at it and punching at it and punching at it. It will be a big … no, I really mean it. It’s a gigantic issue,” he said.

Maybe he stumbled so hard because of his own transgressions in the #MeToo era – after being accused of unwanted touching, and asked to apologize for his intrusive questioning of Anita Hill in the 90s, Biden managed meagre non-apologies twice.

I come out of the black community

After Cory Booker pointed out that he has tons of experience with black voters, it seemed like Biden just had to do one better. How?

Well, first of all, he claimed, “I come out of a black community,” which led to a whole lot of eye-rolling on Twitter.

Then he proved that he was really important, by erasing the only black woman on stage: Biden bragged of being supported by the “only African American woman ever elected to the United States Senate”, at which point Senator Kamala Harris threw her arms up in bemusement and said: “Nope. That’s not true. The other one is here.”

He tried to clarify that he said the first African woman elected (Carol Moseley Braun) – but he didn’t, here are the receipts.

Let’s come together, man

Biden’s repeated calls for us to like, “Come together, man”, seem to be an attempt to show that he can bridge the divide between the Republicans and Democrats. It also seems like a phrase he comes back to whenever he’s unsure of anything. Like, climate policy, for example.

In this debate, Biden responded that we should “come together” when asked whether he would support a criminal investigation into President Trump over Ukraine.

When asked about the Republicans who want investigations into his son’s business relationships in Ukraine and China, Biden said he would bring Democrats together.

When asked about whether a woman is qualified to be president, he pointed out that he has brought people together – “I’ve done it. I’ve brought people together. I’m always told by everybody around here things have changed, you can’t do that anymore,” he said.

At least he’s the one candidate we can all count on to stand up, say a whole lot of nothing, and end with the word “together”.