August 30, 2019

Joe Biden under fire for war hero story filled with inaccuracies
Joe Biden, the Democratic presidential hopeful, is facing renewed questions over his memory and whether he is too old for office after telling an anecdote about a war hero that appears to be littered with inaccuracies.  The former US vice president faced scrutiny after recounting an emotive story of how a soldier he once presented with a medal did not want it because the person colleague tried to save had died.  Speaking in New Hampshire last week, Mr Biden recalled how he once visited Afghanistan’s Konar province while vice president and met a navy captain who scrambled down a 60ft ravine under fire to retrieve a comrade. Mr Biden said that when he tried to pin a Silver Star on the man at an honouring ceremony, the soldier replied: “Do not pin it on me, Sir! Please, Sir. Do not do that! He died. He died!’” While telling the anecdote Mr Biden had said: "This is the God’s truth, my word as a Biden.” Joe Biden, right, and senator Cory Booker during a debate between Democratic presidential hopefuls in July Credit: REUTERS/Lucas Jackson  However an investigation by The Washington Post based on interviews with more than a dozen US troops, commanders and Biden campaign officials found that many of the facts were wrong.  Mr Biden, the paper reported, appears to have merged details from three separate events into a single story.  “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,” a line in the article read.  The Biden campaign has not challenged the accuracy of the report, but Mr Biden himself has pushed back on criticism over the anecdote.  “I was making the point how courageous these people are,” Mr Biden said in a subsequent interview, adding later: “I don’t know what the problem is. I mean, what is it that I said wrong?” The issue has forced the spotlight once again on Mr Biden’s age and suitability for office. He is 76 and would be 78 on his first day in the Oval Office – the oldest person ever elected to the US presidency. Joe Biden was Barack Obama's vice president for eight years Credit: AP Photo/Susan Walsh Mr Biden continues to be the clear frontrunner to take on Donald Trump at the November 2020 elections, according to multiple opinion polls of Democrat voters, but the gap has narrowed this year.   In recent months Mr Biden has made a slew of errors in public, sometimes simply saying the wrong word and at other times making factual inaccuracies.  Mr Biden recently recalled how he met with victims of the Parkland, Florida shooting while vice president. However the shooting happened more than a year after he left office.  At a candidates debate last month Mr Biden accidentally referred to a rival as the “future president” rather than “senator” and tripped up when trying to urge supporters to look at his website.  Mr Trump’s supporters jumped on the gaffe. Mike Huckabee, the former Republican presidential hopeful, tweeted: “Starting to feel sorry for ol' Joe.  He's now become the incarnation of Forrest Gump, showing up in every moment of history, even though he wasn't there and gets it all wrong.” Rudy Giuliani, the former New York City mayor and attorney to Mr Trump, tweeted: “Does Biden plagiarise because he’s a serial liar or has a seriously impaired memory?" In this instance, Mr Biden appears to have merged three different events regarding feats of wartime bravery, according to The Washington Post.  Mr Biden was present in 2008 when a US soldier called Miles Foltz was honoured in Konar province, Afghanistan. But the award was not a Silver Star, the colleague he rescued did not die, Mr Biden was not yet vice president and he did not personally present the honour.  Donald Trump is facing re-election in November 2020. The Democrats will start voting on who they want to take him on in February 2020 Credit: REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst In 2011, Mr Biden did present a medal to a soldier, Chad Workman, who insisted he did not want it because the person he tried to save died. But the ceremony was in Wardak, not Konar, the recipient was not a navy captain and the fatality happened in a burning vehicle.  At another event in 2014, a soldier called Kyle White was honoured for saving colleagues after some had fallen down a ravine. But the award was the Medal of Honor, the event was at the White House and Barack Obama, not Mr Biden, made the presentation.  It is unclear whether the blunder, reports of which were carried prominently by US cable news on Friday, will impact Mr Biden’s standings in the race for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination.
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