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Joe Biden defends war story: ‘The point I was making is absolutely accurate’

Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden on Wednesday again defended mixing up details in a story he’s told about a soldier refusing a medal, saying the details do matter when you’re talking about things that have yet to happen.

The 2020 Democratic presidential front-runner said on CBS’s “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” that it’s fair to go after political figures.

“But here’s the deal: any gaffe that I have made — and I’ve made gaffes, like every politician I know has — have been not about a substantive issue. … I’m trying to talk about what other people have done,” he said.

Mr. Biden said people are making a “big deal” about a story he’s told about a soldier refusing a medal in which he apparently conflated separate events and mixed up details into one incorrect narrative.

“Here’s the deal, because I was not talking about me — I was praising the valor of all these people out there that I visited in over 20 visits to Afghanistan and Iraq and I’ve watched these people and I’ve watched what they’ve done,” he said.

“And I was pointing out that the young man who I did pin the medal on … he didn’t want the medal because his buddy had been killed,” he said.

“So look, it’s a different thing to say when you’re talking about honoring the bravery or the sacrifice or what other people went through and the essence of it is absolutely true,” he said. “The fact that I said that I was vice president — well, in one case I was vice president-elect; the other case I was a senator. I’m not sure that’s relevant.”

“I don’t get wrong things like we should lock kids up in cages at the border,” he said.

Mr. Biden doubled down on comments he had made to NPR, saying: “Those details are irrelevant when the point I was making is absolutely accurate.”

“The devil lives in the details if the details that you’re talking about would affect the outcome of something that is about to happen or should happen,” he said.

Mr. Colbert had also read a list of some of Mr. Biden’s recent verbal misfires, including mixing up New Hampshire and Vermont, saying Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy were assassinated in the 1970s, and making clear that he wasn’t “going nuts.”

“Well, look, the reason I came on the Jimmy Kimmel show is because I’m not,” Mr. Biden joked after Mr. Colbert asked him if he was “going nuts.”

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