Fact Check

Does Joe Biden Have a Speech Impediment?

"God’s gift to me was my stuttering,” Biden once said.

Published Feb 7, 2021

NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 06:  Vice President of the United States Joe Biden attends the 10th Annual American Institute For Stuttering Freeing Voices Changing Lives Gala at The Lighthouse at Chelsea Piers on June 6, 2016 in New York City.  (Photo by Mike Pont/WireImage) (Mike Pont/WireImage/Getty Images)
Image Via Mike Pont/WireImage/Getty Images
U.S. President Joe Biden has a speech impediment.

U.S President Joe Biden has struggled with stuttering, to various degrees, for his entire life. Stuttering is a speech impediment and neurological disorder that may involve "repetitions (D-d-d-dog), prolongations (Mmmmmmilk), or blocks (an absence of sound)," according to the non-profit National Stuttering Association.

This impediment is a condition with a genetic component to it, and Biden's uncle stuttered his whole life, according to a January 2020 feature in The Atlantic. As a child, according to that article, Joe Biden largely taught himself how to deal with his stutter:

After trying and failing at speech therapy in kinder­garten, Biden waged a personal war on his stutter in his bedroom as a young teen. He’d hold a flashlight to his face in front of his bedroom mirror and recite Yeats and Emerson with attention to rhythm, searching for that elusive control. He still knows the lines by heart: “Meek young men grow up in libraries, believing it their duty to accept the views, which Cicero, which Locke, which Bacon, have given, forgetful that Cicero, Locke, and Bacon were only young men in libraries, when they wrote these books.”

In a February 2020 CNN town hall, Biden disclosed the impediment still affects him from time to time "when I find myself really tired." He told the audience that the condition "has nothing to do with your intelligence quotient [and] has nothing to do with your intellectual makeup."

At a New Hampshire campaign stop a few days earlier, Biden showed Brayden Harrington, a 12-year-old boy with a stutter, a printout of a speech he had just given which marked places "where Biden could take breaks between words." The gesture helped to normalize the condition, the boy's father told CNN. Harrington later delivered a speech to the Democratic National Convention.

Because Biden has openly discussed his stutter several times, the claim that Biden has a speech impediment is "True."

Alex Kasprak is an investigative journalist and science writer reporting on scientific misinformation, online fraud, and financial crime.

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