Biden evokes 1968, asks voters to imagine if Obama had been assassinated

Former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenFord to bolster electric vehicle production in multi-billion dollar push Protesters demonstrate outside Manchin's houseboat over opposition to reconciliation package Alabama eyes using pandemic relief funds on prison system MORE raised eyebrows Friday when he asked attendees at a town hall in New Hampshire to imagine if former President ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaObama says US 'desperately needs' Biden legislation ahead of key votes Obamas to break ground Tuesday on presidential center in Chicago A simple fix can bring revolutionary change to health spending MORE had been assassinated.

The remark at the event, which was billed as focused on health care, came while Biden was talking about his political heroes, Robert F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr., who died in 1968.

ADVERTISEMENT

"My senior semester, they were both shot and killed," Biden said, according to multiple reports. "Imagine what would have happened if, God forbid, if Barack Obama had been assassinated after becoming the de facto nominee. What would've happened in America?"

The question was intended to spark a conversation comparing today's political climate to that of the late 1960s. Biden told the crowd the dual assassinations of Kennedy and King helped spark his own political awareness as a young man.

The jarring question was raised on a day when the campaign would rather have focused on touting the 11th anniversary of Obama’s announcement of Biden as his running mate in the 2008 race.

Biden has been under increased scrutiny from the press in recent weeks amid a series of gaffes, including misstating the decade in which King and Kennedy were killed and saying that poor kids” are “just as talented as white kids,” before correcting himself and saying “wealthy kids.” 

Biden is the front-runner in the crowded Democratic presidential primary. He has often worked on the campaign trail to highlight his political and personal relationship with Obama, who remains widely popular within the party.

Updated: 10:50 p.m.