Former Vice President Joe Biden is downplaying the inaccuracies he has repeatedly told in a story about an American military service member during the war in Afghanistan, saying the “details are irrelevant” after being called out by a newspaper last week.
“That has nothing to do with judgment of whether or not you send troops to war, the judgment of whether you bring someone home, the judgment of whether you decide on a health care policy," Biden said in comments aired Tuesday by the NPR Politics Podcast and Iowa Public Radio. “The details are irrelevant in terms of decision-making.”
While speaking to crowds, in the past few weeks Biden has told a story about a Navy captain in Afghanistan. According to Biden, that captain rappelled down a ravine under enemy fire to recover a fallen soldier’s body and later refused a Silver Star from Biden, telling him, “Do not pin it on me, Sir! Please, Sir. Do not do that! He died. He died!"
But according to a Washington Post piece last week, the story as told by Biden never happened. The Democratic presidential candidate, the paper determined, seemed to have combined elements of various stories into one.
The Post interviewed U.S. troops, commanders and Biden campaign officials in determining what events may have inspired the story.
Biden did visit the Konar province – the setting of his story – when he was a senator in 2008. A recovery like the one he described did take place, but the man who pulled it off, Kyle J. White, was a young Army specialist, not a Navy Captain, and never received a Silver Star from Biden. He did accept a Medal of Honor from President Barack Obama in 2014.
There was also an incident, the Post reported, where Biden did bestow an honor upon a reluctant recipient who felt he did not deserve it. That was Army Staff Sgt. Chad Workman. Biden later suggested to a Washington Post opinion writer that it was Workman whom he was talking about when he told the story, asking, "I don’t know what the problem is. What is it that I said wrong?”
This was the latest in a string of eyebrow-raising gaffes from Biden.
In August, he said that “poor kids” were just as talented as “white kids." Days later, he incorrectly said he was vice president at the time of the Parkland, Fla., school shooting, which took place in February 2018, more than a year after he left office.
Also last month, he said that Robert F. Kennedy and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. were assassinated in the 1970s instead of the 1960s.
Fox News' Sam Dorman contributed to this report.