Jill Biden applause line in speech falls flat, first lady joked 'I thought you might clap for that'

May 26, 2023
Ben Marquis

It is not at all uncommon for President Joe Biden, among countless other politicians, to deliver an unfunny joke or cliched line during a speech that falls flat and fails to garner an expected response from the audience.

That is what happened to first lady Jill Biden on Thursday when she had to jokingly prompt an audience to clap at something she had just said, according to Fox News.

Biden forced to prompt applause from the audience

The first lady was delivering a speech on Thursday at the Ronald Reagan Institute Summit on Education in Washington D.C. when she offered up a line that she had anticipated would receive applause but instead was met with silence.

At the beginning of her prepared remarks, Biden said, "As I’ve traveled the country, I’ve visited red states and blue states. And I’ve found that the common values that unite us are deeper than our divisions."

She paused momentarily following that line but, after it was evident that there would be no applause, added, "And, um, I thought you might clap for that," which finally compelled a round of applause and laughter from the crowd.

The official White House transcript -- which is usually pretty good about actually adding in President Biden's gaffes and ad-libs -- of the first lady's speech did not include that particular line about clapping that had not been written by a speechwriter in her prepared remarks.

"That’s my applause line, come on!"

According to the New York Post, this wasn't the first time that first lady Biden has had to remind a crowd that they were supposed to have applauded something she had said, as a similar incident occurred in December 2019 during a small campaign event in Iowa on behalf of her then-candidate husband.

As part of a lengthy diatribe about how a Biden presidency would differ from that of then-President Donald Trump, the future first lady said, "Finally someone is standing up to the NRA and keeping our children and our schools safe," but then added with exasperation after she received no reaction, "That’s my applause line, come on!"

Jeb's "Please clap" moment

Both of those incidents bear a striking resemblance to a moment during the 2016 Republican primary season when former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush exemplified the "low energy" label slapped on him by then-candidate Trump when he literally had to meekly ask an audience to clap for something that he had just said.

In a rare display of passion and emotion, Bush took a swipe at Trump and told a crowd in New Hampshire, "I think the next president needs to be a lot quieter but send a signal that we're prepared to act in the national security interest of this country, to get back into the business of a more peaceful world."

Yet, when that line failed to garner the expected applause, a seemingly defeated and deflated Bush added plaintively, "Please clap," and though not quite official, that was the viral moment when his presidential bid was effectively over.

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