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White House corrects Joe Biden's suggestion he has cancer

The Telegraph logo The Telegraph 20/07/2022 Rozina Sabur
Joe Biden addresses the crowd at the closed Brayton Point Power Station in Somerset, Massachusetts - Joseph Prezioso/Anadolu Agency © Joseph Prezioso/Anadolu Agency Joe Biden addresses the crowd at the closed Brayton Point Power Station in Somerset, Massachusetts - Joseph Prezioso/Anadolu Agency

Joe Biden mistakenly referred to Glasgow as part of England and appeared to suggest he currently has cancer, forcing a swift White House clarification, in the US president's latest public gaffe.

Mr Biden caused immediate confusion as he appeared to say "That’s why I, and so damn many other people I grew up with, have cancer” during a speech on climate change on Wednesday.

While Mr Biden used the present tense, White House officials said the president was referring to his past treatment for skin cancer.

Mr Biden's deputy press secretary Andrew Bates pointed to his 2021 health exam which noted his treatment for "several, localised non-melanoma skin cancers", which he had removed before he took office.

However, Mr Biden's comments were widely mocked by Republicans who have seized on each of the 79-year-old's regular verbal missteps as evidence of his ailing mental acuity.

Other critics pointed out that Mr Biden's comments were a significant departure from the focus of his speech at a former coal plant in Massachusetts.

While announcing steps he is taking to address climate change, Mr Biden began to describe the harmful impact of emissions from oil refineries near his childhood home.

President Joe Biden delivers remarks on climate change and clean energy - Scott Eisen/Getty Images © Provided by The Telegraph President Joe Biden delivers remarks on climate change and clean energy - Scott Eisen/Getty Images

“You had to put on your windshield wipers to get, literally, the oil slick off the window," he said.

"That’s why I, and so damn many other people I grew up with, have cancer and why for the longest time Delaware had the highest cancer rate in the nation."

In his White House health summary, Mr Biden's history of skin cancer is attributed to spending a "good deal of time in the sun in his youth", rather than the result of exposure to fossil fuels.

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It was not the only blunder during Mr Biden's speech, in which he mistakenly referred to Glasgow as part of England as he heralded American leadership on climate change during the COP26 climate summit in the Scottish city last year.

"I was able to bring more world leaders together. We got 100 nations together to agree at the major conference in Glasgow, England – I mean Scotland – to change the emissions policy. We've made real progress," Mr Biden said.

Despite Mr Biden's immediate correction, the error was widely mocked by commentators on social media.

The verbal gaffes overshadowed coverage of Mr Biden's trip to a former coal-fired power plant in Somerset, Massachusetts, shifting to offshore wind power manufacturing, to announce new steps to combat climate change.

They include executive action to bolster America's domestic offshore wind industry in the Gulf of Mexico and Southeast, as well as expanding efforts to help communities cope with soaring temperatures as large swathes of the country reach historic highs.

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The president stopped short, though, of declaring a formal climate emergency, which Democrats and environmental groups have been seeking after an influential Democratic senator quashed hopes for sweeping legislation to address global warming.

Mr Biden hinted such a step could be coming. "This is an emergency and I will look at it that way," he said as he promised more robust action.

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