‘I Think It’s Ridiculous’: Biden Denies He Lied After Washington Post Said He Lied
Joe Biden says the “essence” of a story he told is accurate.
Uh, the essence?
On Thursday, The Washington Post ran a story headlined, “As he campaigns for president, Joe Biden tells a moving but false war story.”
Last Friday, Biden held a campaign event in New Hampshire. There, he told a story about a four-star general he said had asked him to travel to Kunar province in Afghanistan back when he was vice president. The task: award a heroic Navy captain with a medal. Biden told the 400 or so attendees that the captain had rappelled into 60-foot ravine to recover the body of a slain U.S. soldier, and as he went to pin the medal on him, “He said, ‘Sir, I don’t want the damn thing!'” Biden said.
“This is the God’s truth,” Biden said. “My word as a Biden.”
But The Post said this: “Except almost every detail in the story appears to be incorrect. Based on interviews with more than a dozen U.S. troops, their commanders and Biden campaign officials, it appears as though the former vice president has jumbled elements of at least three actual events into one story of bravery, compassion and regret that never happened.”
Biden visited Kunar province in 2008 as a U.S. senator, not as vice president. The service member who performed the celebrated rescue that Biden described was a 20-year-old Army specialist, not a much older Navy captain. And that soldier, Kyle J. White, never had a Silver Star, or any other medal, pinned on him by Biden. At a White House ceremony six years after Biden’s visit, White stood at attention as President Barack Obama placed a Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest award for valor, around his neck.
The upshot: In the space of three minutes, Biden got the time period, the location, the heroic act, the type of medal, the military branch and the rank of the recipient wrong, as well as his own role in the ceremony.
After the story came out, the 76-year-old frontrunner for the Democratic presidential nomination denied it all.
‘I think it’s ridiculous. The essence — that there’s anything I said about that that wasn’t the essence of the story. The story was that he refused the medal because the fella he tried to save and risked his life saving died. That’s the beginning, middle and end. The rest of you guys can take it and do what you want with it,” he told the Palmetto Post and Courieras he campaigned in South Carolina.
“The central point is it was absolutely accurate what I said. He refused the medal. I put it on him, he said, ‘Don’t do that to me, sir. He died. He died,'” Biden said, adding he didn’t “think” he got the story wrong.
“No I don’t think so, but I haven’t seen the article,” he said in reference to The Washington Post piece.
“They went back, I’m told – I didn’t see the story – but, yeah, it’s exactly true. That’s what I was talking about. There was a separate incident that occurred in a different time and a different circumstance. But what I was talking about was a young man. I mean, what is the gaffe when I said there is a young man I tried to pin a medal on and he said ‘I don’t want it sir. He died. He died. He died,’ ” Biden said.
“I was making the point how courageous these people are. How incredible they are. These generation of warriors, these fallen angels we’ve lost. I don’t know what the problem is. What is it that I said wrong?” he added.