Fact Check: Biden Again Dishonestly Suggests He Opposed the Iraq War from the Beginning
WASHINGTON (January 6, 2020) —Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden dishonestly suggested on Saturday that he had opposed the war in Iraq “from the very moment” it began in 2003 — even though Biden’s campaign said in September that he “misspoke” when he made a similar claim.
Biden was responding Saturday to a voter in Des Moines, Iowa, who told him, “I’m with you 90% of the way” but questioned his judgment in part because “you were for the second Gulf War, which was a mess.”
Biden said that “from the very moment” President George W. Bush launched his “shock and awe” military campaign, and “right after” that occurred, “I opposed what he was doing, and spoke to him.”
It’s false that Biden opposed the war from the moment Bush started it in March 2003. Biden repeatedly spoke in favor of the war both before and after it began.
Biden’s language on Saturday — saying he opposed “what he was doing” at the moment the war commenced — was more vague than his language in September, when he flatly said he had opposed “the war” at that moment. But the new version was highly misleading even under the most generous interpretation.
On both occasions — and on another occasion earlier this week — Biden created the impression that he had been against the war at a key moment when he was actually a vocal supporter.
What Biden Said
When Biden has been asked in recent months about his past position on the war, his responses have been very similar.
He said Saturday — as he did at a Democratic debate in July, in an NPR interview in September, and to a New Hampshire editorial board on Monday — that he only voted in 2002 to authorize Bush to use force against Iraq because Bush had privately promised him that he was only trying to get weapons inspectors into the country. (Bush’s office denies that Bush said this.)
In July, Biden continued: “From the moment ‘shock and awe’ started, from that moment, I was opposed to the effort, and I was outspoken as much as anyone at all in the Congress and the administration.”
Biden’s September rendition to NPR was the most direct: “Before you know it, we had ‘shock and awe.’ Immediately, the moment it started, I came out against the war, at that moment.”
The Saturday version went like this: “The president then went ahead with ‘shock and awe,’ and right after that — and from the very moment he did that, right after that — I opposed what he was doing, and spoke to him.”
A surprisingly calm and coherent Joe Biden, circa 2007
How the Biden Team Has Explained
After journalists noted in September that it was false that Biden came out “against the war” right at its start, a campaign adviser, Antony Blinken, told The Washington Post’s fact checker Glenn Kessler that Biden “misspoke.” Biden himself acknowledged to New Hampshire voters that he had made a “misrepresentation.”
Blinken and Biden explained in September that Biden had been opposed to how Bush went to war and how Bush was carrying out the war.
“The extent to which I misspoke was — my public statements were that we were doing this all the wrong way,” Biden said at a September television event organized by Manchester, New Hampshire, television station WMUR, according to a WMUR article on the event. He also said, “The misrepresentation was how quickly I said I was immediately against the war. I was against the war internally and trying to put together coalitions to try change the way in which the war was conducted.”
Biden’s Saturday claim to have immediately opposed “what he was doing” was more ambiguous than the September claim to have immediately come out “against the war.” The campaign did not say he “misspoke” this time.
“The Vice President was referring to how he immediately opposed the specific way we went to war — without giving diplomacy and the weapons inspectors a chance to succeed, based on hyped intelligence, without sufficient allies and without a plan for the day after — and the manner in which the war was being carried out,” Biden campaign spokesman Andrew Bates said in an email.
“He has taken responsibility for his vote for 15 years, calling it out as a mistake in 2005. And that mistake, together with the entirety of his long and distinguished record in national security and foreign policy, has informed his views ever since.”
Biden’s Saturday account included not even a hint of acknowledgment that he had actually supported the war. And given that the voter’s question was about his support for the war, Biden created an inaccurate impression by mentioning “shock and awe” and then immediately saying he opposed what Bush “was doing.”
If he meant he opposed particular aspects of Bush’s handling of the war rather than that he opposed the war itself, he could have specified.
Biden Supported the War
As CNN’s KFILE team explained in detail, Biden did not oppose the war from the beginning. He repeatedly expressed support for the war as a Delaware senator — though he did, as the campaign said, criticize Bush for how he handled the diplomacy, the conduct of the war and the pre-war intelligence.
Biden did call his 2002 vote a “mistake” beginning in 2005. But he endorsed the invasion right before and after it occurred, did so again in public remarks later in 2003, and continued to argue into 2004 that the US should keep up the fight in Iraq.
You can read a detailed rundown of Biden’s comments about the war here. Since his repeated claim has centered upon the “moment” the war began, we’ll focus in this article on what he said as the war was starting.
Speaking on CNN on March 19, 2003, the day the war began, Biden acknowledged Democrats’ “frustration” with Bush’s diplomatic efforts but said, “I think it’s time we stop all that. We have one single focus. And that is, we’re about to send our women and men to war. The president is the commander-in-chief. We voted to give him the authority to wage that war. We should step back and be supportive.”
He also said: “There’s a lot of us who voted for giving the president the authority to take down Saddam Hussein if he didn’t disarm. And there are those who believe, at the end of the day, even though it wasn’t handled all that well, we still have to take him down.”
On March 20, 2003 Biden again lamented Bush’s diplomatic efforts. But Biden told interviewer Charlie Rose that he had believed “all along” that “the right decision is to separate him from his weapons and/or separate him from power.”
Rose said: “If the UN didn’t do it — do it?”
Biden responded: “Yes, you gotta do it.”
CNN’s Andrew Kaczynski and Sarah Mucha contributed to this article.
This Is the Super Tuesday Scene to Remember
Kevin Zeese / Popular Resistance
Forget the election results. This confrontation between Biden and an angry anti-war vet should be the scene everyone remembers from Super Tuesday. Below is a FB post and tweet, please feel free to write your own or share these.
Biden should be remembered for his role in making sure the Iraq war and occupation happened. He did not just vote for it, he led the effort as Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee. If he had opposed it, it would not have happened, instead, he pushed to make the war happen.
Whatever happens in the manipulated elections in our mirage democracy, this is the scene that should be remembered from Super Tuesday. Share it widely. Democratic elites want to nominate someone who has been wrong on every major issue in the last 40 years. This scene is about one of Biden’s greatest errors: The Iraq War and occupation would not have happened without Biden’s support and it is still causing chaos
This is the scene that should be remembered from #SuperTuesday. The Iraq War would not have happened without #Biden. He’s been wrong on every major issue for 40 years. This is what Dem elites want?
Protesters Rush Stage During Biden’s Super Tuesday Rally
(March 3, 2020) — Anti-dairy protesters rushed the stage during former Vice President Joe Biden‘s Super Tuesday rally. A woman chanting “let dairy die” was swiftly removed from the stage at the California event. Moments later, a second protester stormed the stage. She was abruptly carried off by Biden campaign aide Symone Sanders.
Both protesters came within a couple of feet of Biden, raising concerns about security surrounding one of the top Democratic presidential candidates.
The protesters were from Direct Action Everywhere, a group opposed to the dairy industry that also interrupted a campaign rally for Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) in Nevada last month and an event with Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) on Monday.
“Biden’s ties to the dairy industry and indifference to the suffering of farmed animals — something he basically never talks about — flies in the face of everything he claims to stand for,” a spokesperson from Direct Action Everywhere said in a statement Tuesday. “We’re asking him to stand with animal rights advocates, environmental activists, and ordinary citizens — and against the inherent violence of the dairy industry.”
The protesters interrupted Biden’s remarks after early Super Tuesday victories in states like Alabama, Arkansas, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina and Oklahoma.
A spokesperson for the Biden campaign was not immediately available for comment in response to the protest.
Symone Sanders tweeted that she “broke a nail” after she was identified as tackling one of the protesters in video of Biden’s speech shared on Twitter.
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