Former Vice President Joe Biden, who has a history of gaffes, told a group of mostly minority voters Thursday night in Iowa that “poor kids” are just as bright as “white kids.”

Joe Biden

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden speaks at the Des Moines Register Soapbox during a visit to the Iowa State Fair on Thursday. Associated Press/Charlie Neibergall

Biden, who has been leading in national and early state polling for the Democratic presidential nomination, was speaking on the subject of education at a town hall in Des Moines hosted by the Asian and Latino Coalition.

“We should challenge students in these schools that have advanced placement programs in these schools,” Biden said. “We have this notion that somehow if you’re poor, you cannot do it. Poor kids are just as bright and just as talented as white kids.”

After a brief pause, he added: “Wealthy kids, black kids, Asian kids, no, I really mean it, but think how we think about it.”

His remarks prompted a stir on social media Thursday night, with many focusing on the equivalence he drew, whether intentionally, between poor children and minority children.

President  Trump told reporters at the White House on Friday that he had seen footage of Biden’s comments.

“Joe Biden is not playing with a full deck,” Trump said. “This is not somebody you can have as your president. But if he got the nomination, I’d be thrilled.”

In a statement Friday, Biden deputy campaign manager Kate Bedingfield said Biden “misspoke and immediately corrected himself during a refrain he often uses to make the point that all children deserve a fair shot, and children born into lower-income circumstances are just as smart as those born to wealthy parents.”

She also took issue with the Trump campaign for having promoted a video of Biden’s gaffe on Twitter.

“As we approach the two year anniversary of Trump calling neo-Nazis and Klansmen ‘very fine people,’ Donald Trump is desperate to change the subject from his atrocious record of using racism to divide this country,” Bedingfield said, referencing Trump’s comments following the deadly confrontation in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017 between self-proclaimed white nationalists and protesters.

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