At an appearance in New Jersey on Monday President
spent about 10% of his speech telling a story that isn’t true. It isn’t the first time that Mr. Biden has spun this yarn but the tale seems to be getting taller with each telling. The story, which involves his travels on Amtrak, isn’t necessarily of great national consequence, except perhaps as a window into his character or competence. His recent commentary on more significant subjects also raises questions about his veracity and acuity.
Why was Mr. Biden in the Garden State? Jonathan Salant and Brent Johnson of NJ.com report:
While an official visit, Biden’s trip had political overtones coming a week before New Jersey’s gubernatorial race between
trying to become the first Democrat re-elected as governor since Brendan Byrne in 1977, and Republican challenger Jack Ciattarelli, who has closed to within single digits in recent polls.
As for Mr. Biden’s favorite whopper, this is one issue that has received similar coverage from both CNN and Fox. Evie Fordham of Fox in May noted:
President Biden told a heartfelt story last week about an Amtrak conductor congratulating him for riding more than 1.5 million miles—but the details of the story don’t seem to add up.
“When I became vice president, one of the Capitol Hill newspapers estimated that I had taken more than 7,000 round trips on Amtrak over my career. I think that’s an exaggeration. I’m going to rely on those two conductors . . . one of them was a guy named Angelo Negri,” Biden said Friday at an event marking Amtrak’s 50th anniversary.
“There was an article, I guess my fourth or fifth year as vice president, saying Biden travels 1,300,000 miles on Air Force One [Two]. I used to—the Secret Service didn’t like it—but I used to like to take the train home. My mom was sick and I used to try to come home almost every weekend as vice president to see her. I got on the train and Angelo Negri came up and he goes, ‘Joey, baby,’ and he grabbed my cheek like he always did. I thought he was going to get shot. I’m serious. I said, ‘No, no, he’s a friend.’
“He said, ‘Joey, what’s the big deal? 1,300,000 miles on Air Force Two? Do you know how many miles you traveled on Amtrak?’ I said, ‘No, Angie, I don’t know.’ He gave me the calculation and he said you traveled 1,500,000 miles on Amtrak. The fact is, I’d probably take Angie’s word before I’d take the word of what the article said.”
CNN’s Daniel Dale noted in June:
On Tuesday, President Joe Biden repeated a vivid story he has been telling since at least his 2020 presidential campaign.
Biden’s story serves to illustrate both his connection with average workers and his fondness for Amtrak, the rail service he famously used for years to commute between Washington and his home state of Delaware. The story details a conversation he claims to have had with a particular Amtrak conductor as he was boarding a train as vice president.
But the story could not possibly be true . . . Negri had been dead for more than a year—and had been retired for more than two decades—before the earliest moment they could conceivably have had the supposed conversation Biden keeps describing.
Yet Mr. Biden keeps telling this impossible story, and on Tuesday he raised the number of train miles he claims Negri counted to more than two million. He also said of the moment when Negri approached him, “I thought the Secret Service was going to blow his head off. I swear to God. True story.”
Does he believe his story about the conductor and the millions of miles is true or does Mr. Biden realize it isn’t but figures no one cares?
This latest telling of his favorite tale follows his Thursday night confusion at a CNN town hall event. Along with stumbling over domestic and foreign policy issues, the President also seemed to have forgotten that he had chosen to pursue a partisan reconciliation strategy to move the bulk of his agenda without any Republican votes. In his comments to host Anderson Cooper, Mr. Biden seemed to be making the case against the strategy he’s pursuing:
Hey look, it’s all about compromise. You know, it’s—“compromise” has become a dirty word. But it’s bipartisanship and compromise still has to be possible. When I ran for the presidency and I said I’m running for three reasons; one to restore the soul and decency in the country; two to build the middle class and working class so that we build from the middle out; and three to actually unite the country.
And everybody’s been saying, “Well that’s crazy, you can’t do it.” If we can’t eventually unite this country, we’re in deep trouble.
Meanwhile in Virginia
Given the growth of the Beltway swamp, Virginia’s largely government-dependent voters now regularly vote for the leftwardmost major-party candidate in statewide elections. But this year Republican candidate Glenn Youngkin is making the gubernatorial election competitive by presenting himself as a bulwark against the increasing radicalism of the modern Democratic Party. Today Emerson College reports:
The latest Emerson College/Nexstar Media poll of the Virginia gubernatorial race finds Republican Glenn Youngkin and Democrat
tied, 48% to 48%.
The results also suggest that Mr. Youngkin’s focus on ensuring that parents have a say in the education of their children is striking a chord with voters in the commonwealth. According to Emerson:
When asked what the most important issue facing Virginia is, voters were split between education (21%), jobs (15%), Covid-19 (14%), and taxes (10%). Other issues were gun control (6%), immigration (6%), and the environment (6%). Eleven percent (11%) of voters said something else.
James Freeman is the co-author of “The Cost: Trump, China and American Revival.”
Follow James Freeman on Twitter.
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