Fact Check

Did Biden Say He Met with Dead French President Francois Mitterrand?

The setting of this particular purported Biden remark was at a February 2024 campaign appearance in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Published Feb 7, 2024

U.S. President Joe Biden addresses the annual National Prayer Breakfast in Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol on Feb. 01, 2024 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images) (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Image Via Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Claim:
U.S. President Joe Biden said that he spoke in 2021 with former French President Francois Mitterrand, who died in 1996.
Context

The official White House transcript that was published following Biden's speech showed Mitterrand's name crossed out and replaced with the correct name: French President Emmanuel Macron.

In early February 2024, Snopes received emails from readers who asked if U.S. President Joe Biden truly had mistakenly said he met and spoke in 2021 with a former president of France – Francois Mitterrand – who had been dead for more than 25 years.

One reader sent in the following question:

Did Joe Biden give a speech in Las Vegas this week and say he recently met President Mitterrand of France, who has been dead since 1996?

Another reader asked about the same speech that Biden gave in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Feb. 4, 2024:

Biden told a crowd in Vegas on Sunday that he recently met with Francois Mitterrand, the French president who has been dead for nearly 30 years.

It's true that Biden mistakenly mentioned Mitterrand's name when the real French President he spoke with was Emmanuel Macron.

The official transcript of Biden's speech on the White House website displays Mitterrand's name with a line through it. In brackets, Macron's name serves as the replacement:

You know, right — right after I was elected, I went to what they call a G7 meeting, all the NATO leaders.  And it was in — it was in the south of England.  And I sat down and I said, “America is back.”

And Mitterrand [Macron], from Germany — I mean, from France looked at me and said — said, “You know, what — why — how long you back for?”  (Laughter.)  And I looked at him, and the — and the Chancellor of Germany said, “What would you say, Mr. President, if you picked up the paper tomorrow in the London Times, and London Times said, ‘A thousand people break through the House of Commons, break down the doors, two Bobbies are killed in order to stop the election of the Prime Minister.’  What would you say?”

Mitterrand died in 1996 after serving two seven-year terms as the president of France, from 1981 through 1995.

Sources

“Biden Confuses French President Emmanuel Macron with Ex-Leader Mitterrand, Who Died in 1996.” YouTube, New York Post, 6 Feb. 2024, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W_Zh1NLpMpE.

“François Mitterrand | French President & Socialist Leader.” Britannica.Com, https://www.britannica.com/biography/Francois-Mitterrand.

“Remarks by President Biden at a Campaign Event | Las Vegas, NV.” The White House, 4 Feb. 2024, https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/speeches-remarks/2024/02/04/remarks-by-president-biden-at-a-campaign-event-las-vegas-nv/.

Jordan Liles is a Senior Reporter who has been with Snopes since 2016.