MTG challenged POTUS to say Laken Riley's name. Biden went off script and did — sort of.

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  • Before the president's SOTU, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene demanded Biden to say Laken Riley's name.

  • Biden briefly went off script to address Riley's family and immigration.

  • However, Biden mispronounced her name and addressed undocumented immigrants as "illegal."

During his State of the Union Address on Thursday, President Joe Biden took the bait on Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene's challenge to talk about Laken Riley, the recently slain 22-year-old nursing student whose name has been used as a political point for the GOP's hardline immigration stance.

As the president walked down the aisle for his speech, Greene told Biden, who was just several feet away from the representative, to "make it right" and say Riley's name.

Biden at first appeared to avoid interacting with Greene, who was decked out in bright-red MAGA merchandise in support of former President Donald Trump.

But during his address, Biden went off script as Greene heckled him to address Riley and her family.

"Laken Riley, an innocent young woman who was killed by an illegal. That's right," Biden said, mispronouncing the nursing student's name as Lincoln.

He then addressed Riley's parents: "My heart goes out to you, having lost children myself."

Riley was a nursing student student at the University of Georgia when she was killed while jogging near campus in February. A Venezuelan man who crossed the border illegally in September 2022 was charged with the killing, according to federal officials.

Riley's family rejected an invitation from Rep. Mike Collins of Georgia to attend the SOTU.

The riff was one of several surprising instances Biden decided to ad-lib during SOTU, which is especially notable at a time when voters have been raising questions about the president's mental acuity. A recent NBC News poll found that 76% of voters, including Democratic voters, are concerned about Biden's age.

The president also used the unscripted moment to demand Congress to pass the bipartisan national security bill.

"My Republican friends owe it to the American people: Get this bill done. We need to act now," he said.

While Biden challenged Republicans' use of Riley as a political talking point regarding immigration, some lawmakers were taken aback by the president's use of the word "illegal" to describe undocumented immigrants, which has largely been struck from the Democrats' lexicon.

Democratic Rep. Chuy Garcia of Illinois wrote on X that as a "proud immigrant, I'm extremely disappointed to hear President Biden use the word 'illegal.'"

Read the original article on Business Insider