Merle Gorman, the man who challenged former Vice President Joe Biden on the Iowa campaign trail, is a retired farmer and U.S. Marines Corps veteran. Throughout the years, he’s received a number of farming awards and was once honored for being a master swine producer.
In the exchange, which went viral, Biden challenged Gorman to do pushups or go for a run with him after the retiree began peppering him with questions about his son, Hunter. You can watch video of the confrontation later in this article. Gorman is 83 years old.
“You want to check my shape man, let’s do pushups together here, man. Let’s run. Let’s do whatever you want to do. Let’s take an IQ test. Ok?” Biden, 77, said at one point to the man. The town hall was part of Biden’s “No Malarkey” tour through Iowa. The exchange occurred at a town hall in New Hampton, Iowa. Could Merle Gorman be this election’s Joe the Plumber or Ken Bone?
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Merle Gorman Insists He’s Not a Donald Trump Supporter; He Just Thinks Biden Has Been There ‘All His Life’ & Has a ‘Wet Noodle’ for a Backbone
The man in the video was later identified as Gorman, a former Marine and retired farmer who says he has no regrets about it all. He told the New York Post that he wasn’t a Donald Trump supporter and voted for Barack Obama. (Marine Corps muster rolls do list Gorman’s name, per Ancestry records.)
He also said he likes other Democratic candidates in the race, including Elizabeth Warren, Pete Buttigieg, Cory Booker, and Andrew Yang.
“I would love any of them except Joe Biden,” he said. “He’s been there all his life …” he said, according to The New York Post, which added that Gorman described Biden as having “a wet noodle for a backbone.” The Wall Street Journal reported that Gorman considers himself an independent voter.
According to Charles City Press, Gorman started his remarks to Biden by saying, “I’m a retired farmer, and I’m not a Republican. OK. I’ve got two problems with you. One, you’re damn near as old as I am. You’re too old. I’m 83, and I know damn well I don’t have the mental faculties I did when I was 30 years old.”
Gorman, who has deep roots in the area, has gotten some local news coverage before, but it’s for things like winning a pork award. In 1971, Gorman was chosen as “Outstanding Young Farmer” by the New Hampton Jaycees. The operator of a 360-acre farm at that time, Gorman was singled out for “the conservation practices he employs on his farm.” He was also involved in the local Catholic Church, according to the The Courier.
In 1976, Gorman was one of those honored at an Iowa Pork Producers Association banquet, according to the Cedar Rapids Gazette. He was given the “Chickasaw County Master Swine Producer and Outstanding Service Award,” that year. His wife was awarded the “Belle Ringer award given to a member of the Porkettes who has done the most for the pork industry in the county,” the Waterloo, Iowa Courier reported in 1976.
2. Gorman, Who Used to Be a Local School Board Member in the 1970s, Confronted the Former Vice President About His Son Hunter’s Work in Ukraine & Biden Called Him a
Gorman cut right to the chase and asked Biden pointed questions about his son, Hunter. He told Biden: “We all know Trump has been messing around in Ukraine over there…but you on the other hand sent your son over there to get a job and work for a gas company that he had no experience with gas or nothin’ in order to get access to the president, so, you’re selling access to the president, just like he was.” The man said that he saw it on the TV.
“You’re a damn liar,” Biden told Gorman. “That’s not true. And no one has ever said that…you see it on the TV, and I know you do.” That was just the start of the exchange, however.
“I’m not sedentary,” Biden also said at one point. “I get up and…Look the reason I’m running is I’ve been around a long time…and I can get things done.” The man told Biden he wasn’t going to vote for him, at which point Biden said, “Of course you’re not; you’re too old to vote for me!”
Online records show that Gorman has lived in Iowa for decades. Merle F. Gorman is registered to vote in Iowa, records show. Gorman’s brother’s obit lists their parents as Frank and Velora (Keegan) Gorman. His brother attended the high school in the town where Gorman lives and was a plumber and assistant fire chief in town.
In 1971, the Courier reported that Gorman was on the local school board. Gorman ran unopposed for the seat on the New Hampton Community School Board of Education in 1979, receiving 17 votes, according to The Courier.
3. Some People Accused Joe Biden of ‘Fat Shaming’ Merle Gorman, Who Is Listed as Getting Farm Subsidies in Iowa
Biden also defended his son Hunter. “No one has said my son has done anything wrong and I did not on any occasion, and no one has ever said it, not one… you said I set up my son to work in an oil company… Isn’t that what you said? Get your words straight, Jack….you did not hear that on MSNBC.”
The Trump War Room claimed on Twitter that Biden also called Gorman “fat,” and identified the man as a retired farmer.
On social media, some people accused Biden of “fat shaming” Merle Gorman. One man wrote, “So says the guy that can’t handle a retired elderly farmer in Iowa.”
Some people reacted on social media. “@JoeBiden how disgusting are you? This is how you treat middle America? Drop out now!” demanded one. However, others defended Biden. “Good for @JoeBiden..being a voter doesnt give anyone the right to spew lies and they should be called out for it no matter who spreads them,” said one woman.
Gorman is listed as getting farming subsidies. In 1980, he was elected to the Chickasaw County Extension Council as vice chairman, according to The Courier, a Waterloo, Iowa newspaper. He played baseball in high school and was vice president of his junior class.
4. Gorman, Who Was Once Treasurer of a Swine Cooperative, Also Had Choice Words for a Heckler
According to Fox News, his confrontation with Biden wasn’t Gorman’s only heated exchange. “Why don’t you just get out of here?” a man said as Gorman spoke to reporters.
Gorman responded: “Stick it up your a–, fella.” The man walked away, Fox reported.
Gorman also told the man that it’s “a free country,” adding, “I can say what I want.”
According to a 1974 article in the Nashua Reporter, Merle Gorman of New Hampton was named the treasurer of the Chickasaw County Cooperative Swine Improvement Association.
In 1953, he was listed in the Globe-Gazette in Mason City Iowa as getting a blue ribbon at a county fair.
5. Gorman Said He Wasn’t Trying to Cause Biden Problems
Merle Gorman insists he doesn’t have a beef with Biden. He just wanted to ask him some tough questions.
“I’m not trying to cause him problems,” Gorman said to reporters. “…At least he’s not so old that he’s senile.” He indicated that he feels Biden has been in government too long.
Gorman doesn’t appear to have any visible social media presence. The page above is a fan page that immediately sprouted up.
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