Sarah Sanders mocks Biden for stuttering. Biden responds, 'It's called empathy. Look it up.'

Image: Sarah Sanders
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders departs after speaking to reporters at the White House on April 2, 2019. Copyright Jonathan Ernst Reuters file
Copyright Jonathan Ernst Reuters file
By Rebecca Shabad with NBC News Politics
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Sanders eventually apologized for her initial tweet, which she deleted along with a follow-up post attempting to clarify the comment.


Former White House press secretary Sarah Sanders late Thursday mocked former Vice President Joe Biden for accentuating a stutter in his response to a question at the sixth 2020 Democratic presidential debate.

Toward the end of the debate in Los Angeles, Sanders mocked Biden on Twitter for emphasizing a stutter in his response to a question about whether, in the spirit of the holidays, there was a candidate on stage to whom the others would ask forgiveness or give a gift.

"I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I hhhave absolutely no idea what Biden is talking about.#DemDebate," Sanders tweeted.

In his answer on stage, Biden said Warren, who had just emphasized her personal contact with thousands of voters when taking selfies with them on the campaign trail, was not the only person who snapped photos with voters.

The former vice president said he's done "thousands of them," adding that people often "lay out their problems," such as telling Biden — who lost his first wife and infant daughter in a car accident nearly 50 years ago to the day, and his eldest son to brain cancer in 2015 — about how they've lost a family member, or asking him whether they're going to be okay.

Biden said that he and his wife, Jill Biden, have a list of people whom they call on a weekly or monthly basis.

"I tell them I'm here. I give them my private phone number. They keep in touch with me. A little kid who says, 'I, I, I, I, I, can't talk. What do I do?' " said Biden, who also has spoken recently about how he's dealt with a history of stuttering.

Biden responded to Sanders in a tweet, saying, "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 issued a follow-up tweet about 10 minutes after her initial one — both of which she later deleted — that said, "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."

Shortly after that, she apologized.

Sanders resigned as White House press secretary for Trump last summer.

The daughter of former Arkansas GOP Gov. Mike Huckabee, Sanders hinted in November that she was exploring a possible run for governor of the state herself.

"There are two types of people who run for office," she told The New York Times. "People that are called and people that just want to be a senator or governor. I feel like I've been called."

Sanders' former boss has mocked people with disabilities. At a presidential campaign rally in 2015, Trump famously mocked New York Times reporter Serge Kovaleski, who has a chronic condition called arthrogryposis which affects the movement of his arms, by waving his arms around in a jerky manner.

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