(The Hill) — A man who called into the North American Air Defense (NORAD) Command’s annual Santa tracking center and told President Biden “let’s go Brandon” said he meant it in “jest.”
Jared Schmeck, 35, a former police officer who works for an electric company, called the NORAD line and had a brief conversation with Biden on Christmas Eve.
After a brief chat with the president where they talked about what his children wanted for Christmas, Schmeck used a slogan that has become popular among supporters of former President Trump as a veiled insult toward Biden.
Schmeck said he meant no disrespect to the president but that he thought he could be doing a better job.
“At the end of the day, I have nothing against Mr. Biden, but I am frustrated because I think he can be doing a better job,” he said to The Oregonian/Oregon Live.
“I understand there is a vulgar meaning to ‘Lets go Brandon,’ but I’m not that simple minded, no matter how I feel about him,” the father told the news outlet on Christmas morning. “He seems likes he’s a cordial guy. There’s no animosity or anything like that. It was merely just an innocent jest to also express my God-given right to express my frustrations in a joking manner…I love him just like I love any other brother or sister.”
Schmeck told the news outlet he was not a “Trumper” calling himself a “free-thinking American and follower of Jesus Christ.”
Schmeck said he and his children call into NORAD every Christmas Eve and that he was unaware that it would be livestreamed or documented.
“I thought it would be automated. We just waited on hold and then they answered,” he told the news outlet. “And I thought, ‘wow, this is real.’ “
At the end of the call, first lady Jill Biden wished Schmeck a Merry Christmas where he responded, “I hope you guys have a wonderful Christmas as well,” adding, “Merry Christmas and let’s go Brandon!”
“Let’s go Brandon, I agree,” the president responded.
The phrase “let’s go Brandon” went viral after an October NASCAR event at which an NBC Sports reporter mistakenly said the crowd was chanting “Let’s go Brandon,” in support of NASCAR driver Brandon Brown, when they could be heard on live TV chanting “f— Joe Biden” in the background.