President Joe Biden offered some words of encouragement to a young girl who struggles with a stutter, empathizing with her as someone who has had a lifelong stutter himself.
“I promise you it’ll go away if you just keep at it, OK?” Biden tells the girl – whose name is Avery – in a video posted to Twitter on Sunday by Rufus Gifford, who is awaiting confirmation to be chief of protocol at the US State Department.
“Thank you, Mr. President,” Avery responded, smiling before giving Biden a hug. The President then invited her to come down to the White House to see him in the Oval Office.
Avery is Gifford’s niece. Gifford was deputy campaign manager for Biden’s 2020 presidential campaign and was a top adviser on Barack Obama’s reelection campaign. He served in the Obama administration for several years as the US ambassador to Denmark.
“My amazing niece and goddaughter Avery has struggled with a stutter much of her life. She was just told by a guy who knows a little something about it that she can be anything she wants to in this world,” Gifford said in a Twitter post.
“A day she will never ever forget,” he added. “Thank you sir.”
The video appears to have been taken in Nantucket, Massachusetts, where the Bidens spent the Thanksgiving holiday. The President returned to the White House on Sunday.
Biden has talked about how as a young boy he practiced in the mirror for hours on end reciting poetry written by Irish poets like William Butler Yeats to overcome his stutter. At a CNN town hall last year, Biden described how he marks up his speeches to show where he can take breaks in between words to help his delivery.
“You know, stuttering, when you think about it, is the only handicap that people still laugh about. That (they) still humiliate people about. And they don’t even mean to,” Biden said at a CNN town hall last year.
Brayden Harrington was 12 years old when he met Biden on the campaign trail in New Hampshire. After speaking briefly along the ropeline, Biden invited Harrington to meet with him backstage where he spoke with him about stuttering and techniques for how to deal with it.
“Don’t let it define you,” Biden told Harrington of his stutter at the time.
Harrington would go on to speak at the Democratic National Convention that summer and then was also part of the primetime special capping of Biden’s inauguration in January.
“I’m just a regular kid, and in a short amount of time, Joe Biden made me feel more confident about something that’s bothered me my whole life,” Harrington said during the Democratic convention.