The late Rep. Jackie Walorski’s mother told President Biden that her daughter is “in heaven with Jesus” when he brought up his infamous “Where’s Jackie?” gaffe, The Post has learned.
Biden apologized to the Indiana Republican’s family — including her 83-year-old mother Martha “Mert” Walorski — in the Oval Office Friday, two days after he asked where Jackie was at an anti-hunger event.
“She said, ‘Well, Mr. President, we can tell you where Jackie is. She’s in heaven with Jesus,’” the late congresswoman’s brother Keith Walorski told The Post.
“He could only agree. He’s a very Catholic person. He’s very strong in his Catholicism. So all he could do is say, ‘Yes, you’re right. I know.’”
Biden privately apologized to the family, including Walorski’s widower Dean Swihart, during a conversation that lasted roughly half-an-hour, despite the fact that White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre took pains to avoid publicly admitting Biden misspoke.
Biden then welcomed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and a small group of other lawmakers into the Oval Office as he signed a bill renaming an Indiana Veterans Affairs clinic in Walorksi’s honor.
The 79-year-old commander-in-chief laid on the charm during the Friday visit — going so far as to invite Mert Walorski to sit in his chair behind the Resolute Desk for a photo before taking the family on a special West Wing tour , including his private dining room and the rarely seen outdoor swimming pool.
“He did apologize for the ‘Where’s Jackie?’ comment and our family assured him we have no hard feelings. We forgive him for his gaffe,” said Keith Walorski, who told The Post before meeting with Biden that he felt sorry for the oldest-ever president, who frequently misspeaks.
“President Biden brought it up and basically said he was sorry that things went the way he went with his ‘Where’s Jackie?’ comment. We didn’t dwell there a long time. He basically put it out there and apologized and we basically accepted his apology,” he added.
After he signed the bill, Biden “actually stood up from there and said to my mom, ‘Here, sit in my chair.’ And he scooted her up to the desk and she picked up the pen like she was signing the bill and they took pictures.”
Pelosi, who accompanied the family on the guided tour, “made the comment to my mom that, ‘You guys are getting quite the tour. I’ve never been back here.’”
Keith Walorski, who repairs electric motors and generators, hopes that his sister’s legacy won’t be overshadowed by Biden’s gaffe or by vendors seeking to cash in by selling “Where’s Jackie?” merchandise.
“Our conversation was very laid back and casual. Had we asked more intricate political questions or whatever that needed a little bit more cognitive thinking, I don’t know where they would have gone,” he said.
According to Walorski, the family strongly disagrees with Biden on policy and won’t be voting for him if he seeks re-election in 2024, even though the president and his staff were “very, very good to us.”
“Most of the Biden agenda is not what you would call a conservative Christian agenda. That’s who we are,” Keith Walorski said.
The president’s gaffe last week spurred widespread discussion of Biden’s mental fitness and a Wednesday afternoon press briefing devolved into shouting as reporters pressed Jean-Pierre to address Biden’s well-being after she insisted the late congresswoman was simply “top of mind” without addressing why he thought she was alive.
“The confusing part is, why if [Walorski] and the family are top of mind does the president think she’s living and in the room?” Matt Viser of the Washington Post asked Jean-Pierre.
Newsmax reporter James Rosen added, “Karine, I have John Lennon top of mind just about every day, but I’m not looking around for him anywhere.”
As Jean-Pierre’s evasions persisted, Al Jazeera’s Kimberly Halkett said to Jean-Pierre, “[We’re] asking about the mental acuity of the president… [You are] being rude to us by not answering… ‘Top of mind’ is not an answer.”
Walorski died in an Aug. 3 car crash in Indiana and Biden’s forgetfulness about the tragedy was more glaring because of his actions after her death, including lowering White House flags for two days, calling the family to offer his condolences and releasing a statement eulogizing her achievements.