When President Joe Biden appeared to be looking for deceased Indiana Rep. Jackie Walorski to appear at a recent news conference, it raised questions across the nation about the president’s mental fitness. But how does it play out in Walorski’s home state?
Hoosier Democrats don’t want to talk about it.
Walorski was killed in a head-on collision in Indiana along with two officers in August. Hours after the crash, the White House released a statement from the president saying he and his wife were “shocked and saddened” by the news of the accident and sudden death.
The statement went on to mention Walorski’s work in Congress and an upcoming event to be held — the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition and Health — with Biden saying he and his staff appreciated Walorski’s “partnership” as his administration plans for the event.
But when he addressed the conference, Biden — who at 79 is the oldest president in American history — seemed to expect Walorski to be in the audience shouting, “Where’s Jackie?”
It was a horrifying moment for Biden supporters, one that even the left-leaning cast of Saturday Night Live mocked in its season premiere on Saturday. It sparked yet another national conversation about the president’s age and mental acuity.
But for Walorski’s fellow Indiana elected officials, the response has largely been silence. None of the state’s top Democrats responded to InsideSources’ questions about the incident.
Indianapolis Democratic Party official Andre Carson said, “Unfortunately, I don’t believe we’ll be able to comment on that.”
In response to an email asking whether Carson thinks Biden is mentally fit to serve as president and commander-in-chief, and whether Carson would support him if he runs again in 2024, the official said: “I would refer you to the White House for any questions. on President Biden.
Representative Frank Mervan is the other Democrat in Congress from Indiana, representing Gary and Hammond in the northwest corner of the state near Chicago. He and his staff declined to comment.
South Bend Mayor James Mueller’s communications director, who previously served as chief of staff to then-Mayor Pete Buttigieg, said he would speak with Mueller and see if he had any availability to speak on the issue.
She didn’t call back.
Hammond, Indiana Mayor Tom McDermott is the Democratic nominee to challenge Republican Sen. Todd Young in November. Asked whether he thought Biden was fit to serve and whether he would support him in 2024, he also declined to comment.
An email request for comment sent to Democratic Secretary of State candidate Destiny Wells was not returned.
Even Indiana Republicans were reluctant to talk.
U.S. Sen. Mike Brown of Indiana declined to comment on the record about the president’s condition and fitness for the job, saying only that he was at the White House for the event and heard what the president had to say.
He called Walorski “energetic” and recalled first meeting her at a Reagan Day dinner in her northern Indiana district and later attending a Trump rally with her in 2018.
Brown, who plans to run for governor, said Walorski would be at the top of his “consideration list” for lieutenant governor.
Todd Rokita, Indiana’s attorney general and a potential candidate for Indiana governor in 2024, was more forthcoming about Biden and concerns about his mental capacity.
“He must undergo a thorough series of examinations and tests, where the full results of the evaluations and tests are disclosed, along with the name of every doctor and health professional who was involved in conducting the battery,” Rokita said.
Margaret Menge is a freelance journalist based in Indiana who writes for the Columbia Journalism Review, New York Observer, Miami Herald, The American Conservative, and other publications. She wrote this for InsideSources.com.