Biden's obvious verbal gaffe was met with derision on social media.
On June 14, 2023, claims began to spread on social media platforms that U.S. President Joe Biden had said there were plans to build a railroad across the Indian Ocean.
"BIDEN: "We have plans to build a railroad from the Pacific all the way across the Indian Ocean," RNC Research posted on Twitter on June 14, 2023. The account is managed by the Republican National Committee.
BIDEN: "We have plans to build a railroad from the Pacific all the way across the Indian Ocean" pic.twitter.com/p3yvuaupsF
— RNC Research (@RNCResearch) June 15, 2023
Attached to the tweet was a video in which Biden said, "We have plans to build a railroad from the Pacific all the way across the Indian Ocean. We have plans to build in — in Angola one of the largest solar plants in the world. I can go on, but I'm not. I'm going off-script. I'm going to get in trouble."
The video accurately represented what Biden said. Biden was delivering remarks at the League of Conservation Voters' annual capitol dinner on June 14, the same day the claim started to spread online. We found the quote in the White House transcript of the remarks.
We also found it in a livestream of Biden's remarks posted on YouTube by PBS NewsHour, starting at 12:41 in the video:
At the time of publication, there was no evidence of an actual proposal to build a railroad over the Indian Ocean. We found he was most likely referring to a proposal to build a rail line in Sub-Saharan Africa with the goal of reaching the Indian Ocean, which was referenced in an official White House transcript from May 2023.
There was evidence for Biden's claim about building solar plants in Angola. In June 2022, Biden announced the U.S. government had facilitated a partnership between American firms and the government of Angola to invest $2 billion in building new solar projects.
A year later, in June 2023, the Export-Import Bank of the United States approved a loan of over $900 million to the Ministry of Energy and Water in Angola to support the construction of two solar plants in the country. The bank is the official export credit agency of the United States.