The 35-year-old father who said "Let's go, Brandon" during a Christmas Eve call with President Biden now says it was an "innocent jest," The Guardian reports.
President Biden and first lady Jill Biden were answering calls to the North American Aerospace Defense Command's (NORAD) Santa Tracker hotline when Jared Schmeck called in. Schmeck and the Bidens discussed how Schmeck planned to spend the holiday with his wife and four children, but as they prepared to end the call, Schmeck said "Merry Christmas, and let's go, Brandon."
Jill Biden winced, but the president repeated calmly, "Let's go, Brandon. I agree." The entire incident was being streamed live.
"Let's go, Brandon" became a euphemism for "F--k Joe Biden" after a sportscaster mistook the latter for the former at an October NASCAR race. In a report on the Christmas Eve incident, NBC News referred to the phrase as a "right-wing slur."
"At the end of the day I have nothing against Mr. Biden," Schmeck told The Oregonian. "But I am frustrated because I think he can be doing a better job. I mean no disrespect to him." Schmeck also said he is not a "Trumper," describing himself instead as a "free-thinking American and follower of Jesus Christ," and said he is now "being attacked for utilizing my freedom of speech."
"It was merely just an innocent jest to also express my God-given right to express my frustrations in a joking manner," Schmeck said. "I understand there is a vulgar meaning to 'Lets go Brandon,' but I'm not that simple minded," he said at another point, adding later that he "stood 100 percent behind what I did and what I said."
Some commentators have argued that Biden's unruffled response is indicative of his level-headedness and self-confidence.
Others have claimed Biden simply repeated Schmeck's words back to him because he lacked the mental acuity to understand them.