Belfast Telegraph

US presidential candidate Joe Biden slammed for 'Irish, but not stupid' comment

Joe Biden (John Locher/AP)
Joe Biden (John Locher/AP)

US presidential candidate Joe Biden has come under fire for stating "I may be Irish, but I'm not stupid".

The former vice-president, who is of Irish descent, made the comment in response to a question at a forum in Iowa last month.

Trina Vargo, an advisor on Irish relations for Barack Obama's presidential campaigns, criticised Mr Biden's remark.

"Joe Biden clearly has nostalgic feelings about his Irish ancestry, so I doubt he intended to insult Irish people, but that does not excuse such a comment," she said.

“There remain dated and ignorant stereotypes of the Irish and it is time for Americans, including some Irish Americans, to catch up with the times and have a more sophisticated understanding of the Irish.”

This is not the first time 77-year-old Mr Biden made this exact comment in public.

While swearing in Republican senator Lindsey Graham in 2015, he appeared to position himself next to an attractive member of Mr Graham's staff for a photograph.

"I knew this would happen," Mr Graham said to the then-vice president.

Mr Biden replied: "I may be Irish, but I'm not stupid."

The Democratic candidate has traced his Irish roots back to Co Louth, where his great-grandfather, James Finnegan, emigrated from as a child in 1850.

Eight of his great-great-grandparents on his mother's side were also born in Ireland.

Prior to a visit to Ireland in 2016, while he was vice president, Mr Biden wrote a letter expressing his pride in his heritage.

"Over the course of my life, I’ve been a lot of places. I’ve traveled all around the world – more than a million miles on Air Force Two alone. I’ve been honored to have held a lot of titles," he said.

"But I have always been and will always be the son of Kitty Finnegan. The grandson of Geraldine Finnegan from St. Paul’s Parish in Scranton; a proud descendant of the Finnegans of Ireland’s County Louth.

"The great-grandson of a man named Edward Francis Blewitt, whose roots stem from Ballina, a small town in Ireland’s County Mayo – sister city to my hometown in Scranton, Pennsylvania. An engineer with a poet’s heart."

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