White House officials worked to explain why President Joe Biden called out the name of a deceased congresswoman, as if she were still alive, at an event on hunger and nutrition on Thursday.
“Jackie, are you here? Where’s Jackie?” Biden said at the event, a reference to Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-IN), who was killed in a car accident during the summer.
White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters that the president had Walorski on “top of mind” at the event, as she had helped organize it and because Biden plans to participate in a ceremony for her later this week.
“The president was naming the congressional champions on this issue and was acknowledging her incredible work,” she said. “He had already planned to welcome the congresswoman’s family to the White House on Friday. There will be a bill signing this coming Friday. So of course she was on his mind. She was top of mind. … He very much looks forward to discussing her remarkable legacy of public service with them when he sees her family this coming Friday.”
Asked again, Jean-Pierre said, “I totally understand. I just explained. She was on top of mind.” Biden will sign legislation to rename a clinic in honor of the congresswoman.
Walorski and three others were killed in a head on collision on Aug. 3. Her communications director, Emma Thomson, and her district director, Zachery Potts, also were killed. The driver of the other vehicle also died.