During a speech in Warsaw, Poland, Saturday evening, Biden said of Russian President Vladimir Putin, "For God's sake, this man cannot remain in power." CNN initially reported the story with the headline "Biden calls for regime change in Russia," and several other outlets interpreted his comment the same way.
"The president's point was that Putin cannot be allowed to exercise power over his neighbors or the region. He was not discussing Putin's power in Russia or regime change," a White House official said shortly after the speech.
The Washington Post reported that Biden's controversial statement was "ad-libbed" and "came as a surprise to U.S. officials," according to a source familiar with the text of the speech.
Author Tom Nichols, writing for The Atlantic, didn't mind, saying, "What Biden was doing, of course, was being Joe Biden. He was speaking for all of us, from the heart. One of the more endearing things about the president — at least for those of us who admire him — is that he has almost no inner monologue and regularly engages in the kind of gaffe where a politician says something that is impolitic but true."