‘I want to make sure I get this quote exactly right’ Biden Misquotes Lincoln in Speech to Governors Amid Concerns Over Age and Politics

Joe Biden
Joe Biden (images credit: Getty Images)

During a recent address to the nation’s governors, President Joe Biden inaccurately quoted one of Abraham Lincoln’s most famous speeches, despite his initial intention to quote it verbatim. Standing in front of a Lincoln portrait, Biden aimed to draw from the 16th President’s first inaugural address, a speech delivered in March 1861, a time marked by deep national division.

Lincoln’s original words, “We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection,” aimed to unify the nation on the brink of civil war. Biden’s misquote adds to a series of public speaking errors, raising concerns among some Democrats regarding his reliance on notecards during public engagements, per The New York Post.

Biden said, “He said, ‘We — the better angels’, he said, ‘We must address the counsel — and adjust to the better angels of our nature’.  And we do the — and we do well to remember what else he said. He said, ‘We’re not enemies, but friends’. This is in the middle of — this is in the — in the part of the Civil War, He said: ‘We’re not enemies, but [we’re] friends, we must not be enemies.”

These concerns are underscored by a survey reported by ABC News, indicating that 86% of American voters believe Biden, at 81, maybe too old for another term in office. In contrast, the same survey suggested that 62% of respondents view 77-year-old Donald Trump as too old to return to the presidency, with 59% considering both leading 2024 contenders as overly aged for the role.

Despite not addressing the misquote directly, Biden did touch on the subject of age and the current state of politics in his speech. He humorously remarked on his long tenure in politics, juxtaposing it with a call for a reduction in the bitterness and personal attacks that have come to characterize the political landscape.

Biden’s reflection on his extensive political career was coupled with a sincere appeal for a return to a more civil and cooperative political discourse, reminiscent of a time he perceives as less divided and contentious. This moment in Biden’s address highlights the ongoing debate about the role of age and experience in political leadership, as well as the broader challenge of fostering unity and civility in an increasingly polarized environment.

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