Biden, Storyteller in Chief, Spins Yarns That Often Unravel


I’m one of you, he seemed to be saying.

But Mr. Biden made not a single mention of Puerto Rico in either of his biographies. Officials could not point to specific instances when Mr. Biden had worked on issues involving the island, though Ted Kaufman, Mr. Biden’s former chief of staff, defended his close friend’s description, saying that Mr. Biden had personally engaged with Puerto Ricans early in his career, in the same way that he had with other groups, like the Black or Jewish communities.

“You know, all that kind of case work that you do,” Mr. Kaufman said. “They were big on that. Plus, he went to their events.”


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Many presidents, of course, have stretched the truth — in ways big and small.

Bill Clinton lied under oath when he said, “I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Ms. Lewinsky.” Ronald Reagan insisted that he did not “trade weapons or anything else for hostages” during the Iran-contra investigation.

Like Mr. Biden, Mr. Reagan exaggerated his own actions, once saying that he had shot footage of Nazi concentration camps at the end of World War II. He never did.

Mr. Biden’s critics have seized on his falsehoods to depict him as either a purposeful liar or a forgetful old man.

“When you lie about big things, you lie about small things,” said Greg Kelly, a host on the conservative network Newsmax, this year, “and always in a political sense, always in a way to try to get people to like him, and exaggerating along the way.”

The president has been delivering exaggerations at least as far back as his first presidential campaign.

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