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

Former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenJimmy Carter: 'I hope there's an age limit' on presidency 2020 candidates keep fitness on track while on the trail Mark Mellman: The most important moment in history? MORE raised eyebrows Friday when he asked attendees at a town hall in New Hampshire to imagine if former President Obama 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.

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"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 ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaObama meets with Greta Thunberg: 'One of our planet's greatest advocates' Trump: Cokie Roberts 'never treated me nicely' but 'was a professional' Obama, Bush among those paying tribute to Cokie Roberts: 'A trailblazing figure' MORE 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.