Joe Biden claims he said 'facts' not 'fat' to Iowa voter: Listen to the tape yourself

Key Points
  • Joe Biden and his campaign are strongly denying that he called a retired Iowa farmer "fat" after the man challenged him about Hunter Biden.
  • Audio of the confrontation with Merle Gorman reveals the former vice president clearly saying, "Look, fat."
  • Gorman had claimed, without evidence, that Biden got his son Hunter a job with a Ukraine gas company. Biden called Gorman as "damn liar."
Joe Biden's campaign claims he said 'facts' not 'fat' to Iowa voter
'You're a damn liar:' Joe Biden blasts voter after question about Ukraine, son

Look, what "facts" are you going to believe, the ones you hear with your own ears or from Joe Biden's spin room?

Biden and the Democratic presidential contender's spokeswoman are denying — strongly — that he called a retired Iowa farmer "fat" after the man challenged him about Hunter Biden at a campaign event Thursday.

Video of the confrontation clearly reveals otherwise.

Biden's team claims he said "facts" not "fat" during the confrontation in New Hampton.

Biden's disputed dig came as he angrily denied an allegation by the man, who said, without evidence, that Biden had gotten his son a position at a Ukraine gas company while serving as vice president under President Barack Obama.

Biden called the man, later identified as 83-year-old Merle Gorman, "a damn liar" for that claim.

And he challenged Gorman to do push-ups or go running with him after suggesting that the farmer led a "sedentary" lifestyle in contrast to Biden himself.

"But look, fat, look. Here's the deal," Biden told Gorman.

Former VP Joe Biden responds to the allegation by calling the man a "damn liar" after the man accuses him of sending his son to Ukraine to work for Burisma.
Source: NBC News | YouTube

The Democratic front-runner, who had already challenged the man to a push-up contest, paused after saying that, as if he realized he had gone too far by remarking on Gorman's girth.

A number of children in the audience seemed stunned and then laughed when they heard the "fat" crack.

Biden's campaign quickly reacted to the incident after Twitter users gleefully noted Biden's use of the word fat, the candidate's spokeswoman posting a tweet of her own that disputed that claim, arguing that Biden said "Look, facts."

Campaign spokeswoman Symone Sanders wrote Thursday: "To be clear: Any assertion VP Biden said a word about the gentleman's appearance is making this something it is not. In the latter part of the exchange, the VP began to say 'Look, facts' then said 'here's the deal.' If you've been to a Biden event, you've heard this before."

Sanders also tweeted that the man was "flat-out wrong" with his claim about Hunter Biden, and also was a supporter of the Democratic presidential candidacy of Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.


Biden himself later denied using the word about Gorman.

"No, I didn't," Biden answered when asked by a reporter if he had said "fat."


Those claims aside, it was obvious to a group of CNBC reporters and editors that Biden said fat.

The New York Times, in its own story about the confrontation, reported with a hedge: "At another point, he appeared to say, "Look, fat, look, here's the deal."

Politico's report hedged in two different ways on the "fat" comment, suggesting that Biden had seemed to say it, but wouldn't have meant to say it if he actually did say it.

"At one point, Biden appeared to call the man 'fat' by mistake," Politico said.

Presidential candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden addresses supporters during his election campaign. The US presidential election is set to take place in November 2020.
Preston Ehler | LightRocket | Getty Images

The Biden campaign's concern that voters might react negatively to such a remark is not ill-founded.

Iowa, in addition to being home to a crucial early caucus in the presidential nomination cycle, has one of the highest rates of obesity of any state in the nation.

More than 35 percent of Corn State residents are obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Only six states had higher obesity rates.

Here's a sampler of some Twitter reaction to Biden's foot-in-mouth moment.