Former Vice President Joe Biden claimed he was not trying to “mislead people” when he fabricated an emotional story about the war in Afghanistan.
Biden, who is embroiled in controversy after the The Washington Post exposed him for inventing a story about pinning a medal on a reluctant Navy officer, was asked by reporters in Iowa on Monday if “details matter on the campaign trail.”
“They matter in terms of whether or not you’re trying to mislead people,” Biden said. “I wasn’t trying to mislead anybody.”
The story in question entailed the-then vice president being asked by a four-star general to travel to Afghanistan to honor a Navy captain who risked his life saving a downed comrade. According to Biden’s recollection, the captain “rappelled down a 60-foot ravine under fire and retrieved the body of an American comrade, carrying him on his back.” When his superiors sought to honor him with a “Silver Star,” the captain refused, as his comrade had died during the mission.
When Biden first told the story last month to an audience of more than 400 voters in New Hampshire, everyone in the room was left “silent” by the raw emotion the former vice president exhibited. Unfortunately for Biden, however, the Post found “almost every detail in the story” to be “incorrect” upon closer investigation.
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 paper concluded that the 76-year-old former Biden had in fact conflated three different stories, including one in which he actually “did pin a medal on a heartbroken soldier, Army Staff Sgt. Chad Workman, who didn’t believe he deserved the award.”
“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,” the Post reported.