Joe Biden Tells MSNBC He Regrets Using Term “Illegal” To Refer To “Undocumented” Immigrant In State Of The Union Address

President Joe Biden, in his first sit down interview since his State of the Union address, addressed one moment of the speech when he was responding to Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA).

MSNBC’s Jonathan Capehart asked Biden about his use of the term “illegal” when he was talking about the suspect who allegedly killed Laken Riley.

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“An undocumented person,” Biden said. “I shouldn’t have used illegal, it’s undocumented. And look, when I spoke about the difference between Trump and me, one of the things I talked about in the border was his, the way he talks about vermin, the way he talks about these people polluting the blood. I talked about what I’m not going to do. What I won’t do. I’m not going to treat any, any, any of these people with disrespect. Look, they built the country. The reason our economy is growing. We have to control the border and more orderly flow, but I don’t share his view at all.”

Capehart followed up. “So, you regret using that word?”

“Yes,” Biden said.

Greene had shouted for Biden to “say her name,” referring to Riley, who was killed last month while jogging in a park. Police arrested Jose Ibarra, a Venezuelan citizen, in the attack, and say he unlawfully entered the United States in 2022, per the AP.

The most contentious moment of Biden’s speech was when he addressed the border and immigration, as he hammered Republicans for rejecting a bipartisan bill to beef up security, as well as provide assistance to Ukraine and Israel.

Biden’s comments on MSNBC quickly were seized upon by Trump’s allies, who have seized on the crisis at the border as one of the most important issues of the campaign.

Also in the interview, Biden said that it was “always possible” that a ceasefire deal will be reached in the Israel-Hamas war before the month of Ramadan, which starts on Monday. The deal being discussed would return hostages in exchange for a temporary pause in fighting during Ramadan. Hamas, however, wants a more permanent ceasefire.

Biden said, “Oh, I think Hamas would like a total ceasefire across the board because they — then they would see they have a better chance to survive and maybe rebuild. But that’s not what I think the vast majority of people think. You have to — look, after what happened in World War II and the carpet bombing that took place, what happened was we ended up in a situation where we changed the rules of the game, what constituted the legitimate rules of war. And they should be abided by.”

Biden pushed back on one of Capehart’s questions regarding the share of voters in Michigan who voted “uncommitted” in the recent primary, a protest of the administration’s policy toward the Israel-Hamas war.

One voter, Capehart said, “told Charles Blow of The New York Times, and I’m quoting, ‘As bad as Mr. Trump’s rhetoric was and him putting a travel ban on five Muslim countries, he wasn’t overseeing and actively arming a genocide.’ Those are tough words. What’s your response to that widely shared sentiment?”

“It’s not widely shared. You guys make judgments you — you’re not capable of making,” Biden said. “That’s not what all those people said. What they said was they’re very upset, and I don’t blame them for being upset. There’s families there. There are people who are dying. They want something done about it. And they’re saying, Joe, do something, do something.”

Biden also talked about another moment of his speech, when he addressed the Supreme Court, with justices sitting right in front of him, on the decision to overturn Roe vs. Wade.

“I think they made a wrong decision. I think they read the Constitution wrong,” Biden said. I think they made a mistake. And I was being blunt and a part of it that they said, remember, what they said was, ‘It’s up to the states to decide.’ That’s really what … was said. It’s no longer constitutionally guaranteed principle. And they use the phrase that women can vote, making changes they want to. I found that somewhat insulting the idea that they don’t think they can. … And I was just making clear, women speak up, this is going to change. And if you give me some — if you give me a Congress, that’s Democrat, we’re going to change it back to Roe v. Wade.”

The interview ran today on MSNBC’s The Saturday Show, just as Biden and Trump were holding dueling rallies in Georgia.

Capehart also asked about other moments during his speech, like when Republicans did “not cheer your tough words for Vladimir Putin or for defending democracy or any of the other things Republicans used to stand for.” Biden attacked Trump for saying that he would let Putin and Russia “do whatever the hell they want” to NATO countries that don’t meet with defense commitments.

“Well, I think some of them still do stand for it, but they’re pretty much intimidated by Trump right now,” Biden said of Republican lawmakers. “I mean, the idea that, look, I’m talking to you, I’m down here talking these folks are starting businesses, getting endorsed by minority businesses. He’s up with Marjorie Taylor Greene, in north Georgia. Yesterday he spends the time at his mansion with — his resort with [Hungary’s autocratic leader Viktor] Orban. He talks about his great respect for, you know, the president of North Korea. I mean, he praises Putin. I mean, it’s a different world.”

He also said that Trump was “dangerous” for talking about getting out of NATO. “It’s critical to our national defense,” Biden said. “We made a commitment after World War II to never let it happen again.”

Earlier today, the Biden campaign unveiled a new ad from Biden, in which he addresses his age and then outlines some of his accomplishments during his term. The spot will target audiences in the key markets of Detroit, Flint, Grand Rapids, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Harrisburg, Milwaukee, Madison, Green Bay, Phoenix, Atlanta, Las Vegas, and Raleigh, with a focus on voters of color and young voters, according to the campaign. It will be shown on channels such as ESPN, TNT, FX, Adult Swim, and Comedy Central, as well as during March Madness. The spot also will run on digital platforms.

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