Sunday, December 21st, 2014

The Truth-O-Meter on Biden

SUMMARY: Joe Biden returns to the main stage as Barack Obama's vice presidential pick. We review his Truth-O-Meter rulings from the Democratic primary and two from his debut on the ticket.

Welcome, Joe — or should we say, welcome back . Barack Obama named Delaware Sen. Joe Biden as his choice for running mate on Aug. 23, 2008, and it's a familiar choice for us fact-checkers. Biden ran for the Democratic nomination himself, and though he was unsuccessful — he dropped out after barely registering in the Iowa caucuses — we checked lots of statements from him.

Biden has both a penchant for pithy exaggeration and a formidable grasp of foreign policy, which brings a lot of variety to the Truth-O-Meter. Here's a look at some of his more interesting contentions.

• It appears the Republicans brought out the fabulist in Biden: We gave him his first Pants on Fire for saying that the president is brain-dead and another for saying that Rudy Giuliani is "probably the most underqualified man since George Bush to seek the presidency."

• Biden had substantive positions on foreign policy in Iraq. We dug into his detailed plan for ending the war there peacefully. Biden was also willing to tussle with fellow candidate Bill Richardson when Richardson attacked the plan.

• If he tooted his own horn with a little too much enthusiasm, he still brought up substantive issues while he was at it. We checked his claims that he brought down crime in New York City and ended genocide in Bosnia. (We found both items Barely True).

When Biden left the race for the presidency, he said he had no regrets.

"I committed that I would say exactly what I believe; I committed that I would not in any way truncate what I thought needed to be said," Biden said during an emotional farewell speech.

After being introduced by Obama at an Aug. 23, 2008, rally in Springfield, Ill., Biden praised his friend and now opponent, Sen. John McCain, but then went after him with some attacks straight from the Obama campaign playbook. Here's two we checked:

• Criticizing McCain for embracing President Bush's policies, Biden told the crowd: "And these are John's words, (on) 'the most important issues of our day, I've been totally in agreement and support of President Bush.' Ladies and gentlemen, that's what he said." In fact, McCain did, during a June 19, 2005, appearance on NBC's Meet the Press. We ruled Biden's statement True.

• But then Biden did some cherry-picking when he said of McCain, "You can't change America when you supported George Bush's policies 95 percent of the time." He is right that McCain voted with the Bush administration 95 percent of the time in 2007, according to an analysis by Congressional Quarterly. But he fails to mention the year, as Obama did when we gave him a True in June, and Biden conveniently leaves out other years when McCain's support for Bush was lower. In fact, McCain has backed the president's position an average of 89 percent of the time since 2001. Biden's misleading picture of McCain's support for Bush rates a Half True.