Former vice president Joe Biden defended his telling of a war story with multiple factual inaccuracies, saying in a radio interview broadcast Tuesday that his grasp of details in such situations is “irrelevant” to his ability to make policy decisions.
“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 told the NPR Politics Podcast and Iowa Public Radio in a wide-ranging interview.
“The details are irrelevant in terms of decision-making,” the Democratic White House hopeful added.
The Washington Post reported last week that Biden had recently told an audience in New Hampshire about a general who asked him during Biden’s tenure as vice president to travel to Afghanistan to award a Silver Star to a Navy captain who was reluctant to receive it.
It appears that Biden, who has a history of gaffes, jumbled elements of at least three actual events into one story that never happened. Biden visited Afghanistan as a senator. The service member whose act he described did not receive a Silver Star, though he later received a Medal of Honor from President Barack Obama, and he was not in the Navy, but the Army.
Biden, who initially contended that the details were correct in his retelling, told NPR that inaccuracies were “irrelevant to the point.”
“It’s like saying, ‘I had this very bright reporter, and I think her eyes were blue,’” Biden said. “What difference would it make about whether you were a bright reporter? Your eyes are brown. It’s irrelevant, and you know it.”
During an appearance Monday in Iowa, Biden was pressed by reporters about whether details matter in his retelling of stories.
“They matter in terms of whether or not you’re trying to mislead people. And I wasn’t trying to mislead anybody,” Biden said ahead of a Labor Day picnic in Cedar Rapids.
“My point is, I was there,” he added. “The fact is, the point I was trying to make, I’d make again. The valor and honor of these warriors are as significant as any warriors we’ve ever had in the history of the United States of America. That was my point.”