Former Vice President Joe Biden responded Thursday to a Washington Post report claiming that a military story he shared on the campaign trail “never happened,” saying in an interview “I don’t know what the problem is.”
The Democratic frontrunner’s blunder took place earlier this month when Biden recounted a story he claimed to be “God’s truth” at a campaign stop in New Hampshire.
Biden offered an emotional account of his decision to travel to Afghanistan, despite concerns about visiting a war-torn area, in order to honor a Navy captain for retrieving the body of his dead comrade during battle.
According to Biden, he brushed off concerns about the risk of him traveling to the deadly area. “We can lose a vice president,” he said, recounting his words to a crowd during an event on Friday. “We can’t lose many more of these kids. Not a joke.” His story involved the captain dramatically telling Biden he didn’t want the medal because his comrade ended up dying.
The Washington Post reported Thursday that the event “never happened,” after speaking with a dozen military and campaign sources.
“It appears as though the former vice president has jumbled elements of at least three actual events into one story,” The Post’s Matt Viser and Greg Jaffe wrote. “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.”
During an interview on Washington Post columnist Jonathan Capehart’s Cape Up podcast, Biden acknowledged that he had not read the report but stood firm against the criticism.
“I have not read the article but my response is similar to a story you had about the fact that, you know, ‘Joe Biden, you know talked about the assassination of Barack Obama.’ Well, everybody understood the context. It was a totally different context that it was all about. Later, everybody clarified it,” Biden began. “There was no gaffe there. I was making the point to a group of young people that imagine if your generation were confronted with the things that happened in mine.”
“The assertion I made was there was a young man who I attempted to pin a medal on at the request of the commander and he said, ‘I don’t want it. He died, he died’ Well, it turns out that’s true,” Biden continued. “There was a separate incident that occurred at a different time and a different circumstance, but what I was talking about was a young man- I mean, what was the gaffe when I said there was 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.’
“It was a young man, my recollection was, that he pulled a colleague of his out of a burning humvee and he risked his life doing it and the young man died that he tried to save. His commander has asked me to pin a medal on him when I was in theater and when I went to do it, he said ‘I don’t want it, sir. He took it, I pinned it on him, but he said, ‘He died, sir. He died.
“I was making the point about how courageous these people are, how incredible they are, this generation of warriors, these fallen angels we lost. And I don’t know what the problem is. I mean, what is it that I said wrong?”
Capehart then read an excerpt from the Post’s report; “Almost every detail in this 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.”
“You just confirmed it happened,” Biden shot back.
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