A Central Point father of four who wished President Joe Biden and the first lady a wonderful Christmas and added “Let’s go, Brandon,” at the end of a live streamed Santa tracker call told The Oregonian/OregonLive that he didn’t intend his parting message to be vulgar.
“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,” said Jared Schmeck, 35, who works for an electric company and was previously a Medford police officer for six years until he resigned in July 2018. “I mean no disrespect to him.”
The phrase “Let’s Go, Brandon” has become a conservative dig at the Democratic president, a code for “F— Joe Biden,” which resulted from an Oct. 2 NASCAR race in Alabama, where a crowd was shouting the vulgar chant, but a TV reporter suggested during an interview with the winning driver Brandon Brown that the crowd actually was chanting, “Let’s go, Brandon.” Brown had just won his first NASCAR Xfinity Series race.
Schmeck said he’s not a “Trumper,” but described himself as “free-thinking American and follower of Jesus Christ.”
Schmeck said he and his family call into the NORAD Santa tracker every Christmas Eve. He said he wasn’t aware the call would be livestreamed.
When he called Friday night from his sons’ Christmas-decorated bedroom, he was told First Lady Jill Biden would be taking calls.
“I thought it would be automated. We just waited on hold and then they answered,” he said. “And I thought, ‘wow, this is real.’ “
When Jared shared the names of his children, President Biden immediately honed in on the boy named Hunter, sharing that they have a son and grandson named Hunter as well.
Jared’s 11-year-old Griffin told the president he wanted a piano for Christmas. His son Hunter said he wanted a Switch.
“Switch?” Biden questioned.
Schmeck, kneeling between his sons’ beds and holding his cell phone out so all could hear, explained to the president that it’s short for Ninetendo Switch. Schmeck went on to share that his daughter Piper wanted a Barbie doll airplane and his 2-year-old daughter Penelope would be happy with any presents from Santa. Schmeck asked for a “quiet night.” The president retorted, “Lucks of luck dad,” and all laughed.
Biden urged all the children to get to bed by 9 p.m. and stay asleep until midnight or Santa wouldn’t show.
“Well, have a Merry Christmas. Have a wonderful Christmas,” the First Lady said.
“I hope you guys have a wonderful Christmas as well,” Schmeck responded, and added, “Merry Christmas and Let’s Go Brandon!”
The First Lady winced, and the president immediately responded, “Let’s Go Brandon, I agree.”
Then President Biden attempted to find out if Jared was calling from Oregon.
“By the way are you in Oregon? Where’s your home?” the president asked. With no response, Biden said, “I think we lost him,” and moved on.
By then, though, Schmeck had gotten off the phone. He said he didn’t hang up on the president but that he was disconnected.
Soon afterward, Schmeck’s wife on Instagram posted, “My husband may or may not have just told joe and jill Biden ‘let’s go Brandon’ on the phone,’ “ punctuated by two crying emojis. Schmeck also posted a video of their conversation with Biden and the First Lady on his YouTube channel, writing, “We talked to President Joe Biden on Christmas Eve! #letsgobrandon”
From Christmas Eve to Christmas Day, Schmeck’s parting remark to Biden fueled fury on social media.
U.S. Rep. Eric Swalwell, D- CA, wrote on Twitter, “I refuse to believe we are this indecent as people. Not on Christmas Eve. And not to a person who lost his wife and daughter at Christmastime. We are better than this. Be kind and #Merry Christmas.”
Another on Twitter wrote: “Imagine being a grown man so infantile and disrespectful that you say the slur ‘Let’s Go Brandon’ to the president in front of your own kids and dozens of others. This is a sad time.”
Others lambasted his remark. One person wrote on Twitter, “Some of us celebrate Christmas Eve w gratitude for the birth of Jesus, others shout obscenities to entertain their son and @YouTube audience.”
“Wow. #jaredschmeck is gonna trend for the first time in his life, and not in a good way,” wrote another on the social media site.
Schmeck called his remark a “joke,” and a reflection of his frustration with Biden’s policies, including the federal vaccine mandates, inflation and global supply chain problems that have caused shortages in consumer products.
“And now I am being attacked for utilizing my freedom of speech,” Schmeck said, adding that he’s been receiving some vague but threatening phone calls since the Santa tracker call.
“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 35-year-old father said 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.”
Asked why he resigned from Medford police on July 15, 2018, Schmeck wouldn’t say.
He went on to say he “stood 100% behind what I did and what I said.”
— Maxine Bernstein