Former Vice President Joe Biden at a campaign event on Friday compared the political and social unrest of the late 1960s to the current political climate, asking audience members to imagine what might have happened if President Barack Obama had been assassinated.
“Imagine what would have happened if, God forbid, Barack Obama had been assassinated after becoming the de facto nominee. What would have happened in America?” the Democratic presidential candidate said, according to The New York Times.
Biden, 76, appeared to be engaging in a rhetorical exercise aimed at impressing upon younger voters the impact of the back-to-back assassinations of Robert F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968. Friday’s event took place on the campus of Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire. Several dozen high school and college students were in the audience, according to the Times.
He also attempted a stale compliment to the women in the room, suggesting they wouldn’t want to admit their age by recalling events from the late ’60s.
Biden, the current front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination, said:
I think of where we are at the moment. You know, none of you men are old enough, uh, women are old enough, but a couple of you guys are old enough to remember. I graduated in 1968. Everybody before me was: Drop out, go to Haight-Ashbury, don’t trust anybody over 30, everybody not get involved. I’m serious. I know no woman will shake their head and acknowledge it, but you guys know what I’m talking about. Right? But then what happened? Dr. Ki— I only have two political heroes. I have one hero who was my dad, but I have two political heroes were Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy. My senior semester, they were both shot and killed. Imagine what would have happened if, God forbid, Barack Obama had been assassinated after becoming the de facto nominee. What would have happened in America?
The comments came days after Biden, during a speech in Iowa, mistakenly said Kennedy and King were killed in the 1970s.
On Friday, the former vice president said those assassinations sparked his own political awakening in his 20s.
“Unless I’m mistaken, Donald Trump did for your generation what the loss of two of my heroes did for mine,” he said to the students in the audience. “What they did was make you realize, my God, we’re in trouble.”