Jared Smith, 17, stops Joe Biden cold at MiraCosta – Stuttering Brothers

Jared Smith, 17, stops Joe Biden cold at MiraCosta – Stuttering Brothers

Joe Biden greets Jared Smith at MiraCosta rally

The crowd split for 17-year-old Jared Smith.

President Biden just finished a rousing speech, calling the upcoming election an election, not a referendum, and declaring his optimism in America.

But when “Joe from Scranton” (as Rep. Mike Levin introduced him) began shaking hands Thursday night in the MiraCosta College gym, he made eye contact with Smith, a senior at Sage Creek High School.

Biden asked the skinny teenager from Carlsbad for his name and phone number. (The aide gathered the information.) He gently touched Smith’s shoulder.

Jared Smith holds a sign at a MiraCos rally and thanks Joe Biden for stuttering. Photo by Chris Stone

Earlier, Biden was wrapping up his tirade of airline “hidden fees” during his 45-minute speech when he turned to his left and spotted a crude sign Smith was holding.

Initially, Biden blew the young man in a gray Henley shirt about 30 feet away.

“I’ll read what you’re saying later, kid,” Biden said. “I’ll look into it later. It has fine print on it.”

A woman nearby spoke up, reading aloud from the top half of the open page, “Thanks for stuttering.”

It stopped Biden in his tracks.

“Oh, God loves you,” he told Smith.

So began a 2-minute, 40-second detour from a largely unscripted speech as Biden recalled his stuttering all the way back to college — “a really exhausting thing.”

“If I grew up and told you I had a cleft palate and it was fixed, no one would laugh,” Biden said. “If I told you I grew up and had clubfoot and it was fixed, no one would laugh.”

He showed his old stutter.

“I used to talk like that when I was a kid,” Biden told Smith. “It’s terribly difficult to ask a girl to go to the PPP graduation with me. It sounds funny, but guess what – it makes you feel like an idiot.”

A woman nearby read the top of the sign aloud after Biden said he couldn’t read small print. Photo by Chris Stone

Biden advised Smith, with 1,000 fellow Democrats watching, that stuttering “can’t define you. It will not define you.”

He said he stays in touch with 35 children who are overcoming speech impediments.

“Do you remember the young man who nominated me?” Biden said, recalling young Brayden Harrington. “What courage it took—severe stammering.”

Biden, who also mentioned the 2010 film “The King’s Speech”, he apologized for going off topic, but used it to make a point.

“It is true that there are many people in America, not only [those who] stutterers, who need confidence-building measures,” he said. “It’s even more important in my opinion as a consequence of what happened during the whole COVID crisis. There is still a need for — how shall I say it? — for mental health care than at any time in American history.”

The crowd at Oceanside cheered.

Destiny Smith, Jared’s 18-year-old sister, recalled her emotions.

“He went through a lot at school, and I just cried at that point,” she told the Times of San Diego. “I’m still in awe.”

She said it was amazing to see the crowd give way for her brother to talk to Biden.

Jared told a reporter what he wrote at the bottom of what his sister called a “makeshift” sign: “You are an inspiration to every kid like me.”

He also said he suffers from what he called other “non-physical disabilities” – autism and ADHD.

Jared, an active supporter of ranked-choice voting and other electoral reforms, said he thinks Biden’s presidency has been incredible and has changed society’s perception.

Destiny Smith simply said of her brother, “I’m so proud of him.”

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