WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden mistakenly asked whether the late Rep. Jackie Walorski, R-Ind., who died in a car wreck in August, was in attendance during a speech Wednesday at the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health.
Biden thanked "all of you here," singling out Walorski and other lawmakers, for their work on hunger as he spoke about his administration's efforts to end hunger in the U.S. by 2030.
"Jackie, are you here? Where's Jackie? I didn’t think she was – she wasn’t going to be here," Biden said.
Walorski and two of her congressional staff members died in August during a head-on car collision in northern Indiana. She was 58.
Walorski, first elected to Congress in 2012, served as co-chair of the House Hunger Caucus. Politico reported that a video tribute was to honor Walorski at the conference.
Biden, known for making slip-ups in public remarks, turns 80 years old in November and has faced regular attacks from Republicans over his mental fitness. Biden has said he intends to run for re-election in 2024 but has not formally announced plans.
"No amount of spin from the White House can justify President Joe Biden forgetting the tragic passing of Jackie Walorski – the latest gaffe that calls so much into question," said Indiana Republican Party chairman Kyle Hupfer.
Biden issued a statement following Walorski's death in August, saying he and Jill Biden were "shocked and saddened" and that he appreciated the congresswoman's help on planning for the hunger conference.
When asked about the gaffe, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Walorski was "on top of mind" for the president because of the former congresswoman's work on hunger and ahead of Biden hosting the Walorski family Friday at the White House.
Jean-Pierre said she believes Americans will understand why Biden was thinking about Walorski.
"I don't think it's all that unusual to have someone top of mind," she said.
Reach Joey Garrison on Twitter @joeygarrison.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Biden mistakenly calls out recently deceased congresswoman