(CBS News) – Former White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders faced pushback Thursday night after mocking former Vice President Joe Biden’s comments at the Democratic debate about stuttering. Biden’s comment came as he explained how children with stutters have reached out to him for advice. Biden’s lifelong struggle with his own stutter was the subject of a recent profile in The Atlantic.
At the end of the debate, the moderators asked the candidates which candidate they would ask for forgiveness from or what gift they would give. After Warren gave an emotional answer asking for forgiveness after getting “really worked up” while meeting voters, Biden said “there is not one line I go through where at least half-dozen people come up to me … and they lay out their problems.” He said he and his have a “call list” with whom they keep in touch of people who are “hurting very badly.”
“They keep in touch with me,” Biden continued. “A little kid, he says ‘I-I-I-I-I-I-I-I-I-I-I-I can’t, I-I-I can’t talk, w-w-what do I do?”
His words were quickly mocked by Sanders, who tweeted, “I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I hhhave absolutely no idea what Biden is talking about.”
After facing harsh blowback on Twitter, Sanders clarified her comments, writing, “To be clear was not trying to make fun of anyone with a speech impediment. Simply pointing out I can’t follow much of anything Biden is talking about.”
Biden responded to Sanders’ tweet soon after, writing, “I’ve worked my whole life to overcome a stutter. And it’s my great honor to mentor kids who have experienced the same. It’s called empathy. Look it up.”
Sanders then deleted her first two tweets, and responded directly to Biden. “I actually didn’t know that about you and that is commendable,” she wrote. “I apologize and should have made my point respectfully.”
This isn’t the first time Biden’s stutter has been invoked by Republicans. After he stuttered on a question about health care in the Detroit debate, the Atlantic profile noted, Fox News edited his stutters into a clip.