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Biden was quoting Pope Francis in video clip

October 27, 2020 GMT

CLAIM: Video shows Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden saying, “Why am I doing this? Why? What is my real aim?” 

AP’S ASSESSMENT: Missing context. Biden used those words when quoting the encyclical Fratelli Tutti issued by Pope Francis. Biden said that phrase during a campaign stop in Georgia where he discussed the “battle for the soul of America.”

THE FACTS: On Tuesday, Biden delivered a campaign speech in Warm Springs, Georgia, where he talked about the need to heal the nation as the country struggles to tackle public health and economic crises. The Trump campaign shared a portion of the speech on Twitter, which took Biden’s words out of context to make it appear he said, “Why am I doing this? Why? What is my real aim?”


Another Twitter user also shared the misleading clip. “Joe Biden: “Why am I doing this? Why? What is my real aim?” Answer: To raise taxes on the middle class and eliminate the oil industry and ban fracking,” the tweet said.  

A longer clip of the speech on C-SPAN shows that Biden was citing the pope’s encyclical,  “Fratelli Tutti” (Brothers All), in which he encourages politics to move away from divisiveness, and advance the common good. 

“Pope Francis warns us against this phony populism that appeals to the basest and most selfish instinct. He goes on to say politics is more noble than posturing, marketing and media spin. These sow nothing but division, conflict and bleak cynicism,” Biden said in his remarks. 

“He said for those who seek to lead, we do well to ask ourselves why am I doing this? Why? What is my real aim? Pope Francis asked questions that anyone who seeks to lead this great nation should be able to answer. And my answer is this: I run to unite this nation and to heal this nation,” Biden added. 

Biden traveled to the hot springs town where Franklin Delano Roosevelt coped with polio, both before and during his presidency. During his visit, the Democratic nominee declared the U.S. is not too politically diseased to overcome its health and economic crises, and pledged to be the unifying force who can “restore our soul and save this country,” according to AP reporting. 



This is part of The Associated Press’ ongoing effort to fact-check misinformation that is shared widely online, including work with Facebook to identify and reduce the circulation of false stories on the platform.

Here’s more information on Facebook’s fact-checking program: