President Biden clearly thinks this one never gets old — if only it were true.
Biden on Wednesday repeated for the sixth time this year what he called a “true story” about an encounter with an Amtrak conductor named Angelo Negri — despite the story being declared “false” by fact-checkers.
Biden said it happened when he visited his sick mother, who died in January 2010, less than one year after he became vice president. On at least three other occasions, Biden said it happened much later in his second term.
“I remember one day as vice president, the government keeps fastidious records of how many miles you travel on government planes. And so there’s a big headline, ‘Biden travels,’ I forget what it was, ‘a million miles on Air Force Two’ and so on and so forth,” Biden said in Kansas City, Mo.
“And I was getting on the train to go home,” Biden continued. “I was going home to see my mom who was sick. And one of the conductors I’ve known for years walked up and grins, he said, ‘Joey baby,’ grabbed my cheek. Not a joke. And I thought that he was going to get shot. True story.”
Biden once again put on his best working-class-Joe impression to draw out the “Joe-eee” and “bay-bee.”
Biden said, “I said, ‘No, no, it’s OK. We’ve known each other.’ He says, ‘Joey. Big deal. A million miles’ — or whatever it was — ‘a million miles on Air Force Two. Come on, Joey, do you know how many miles you traveled on Amtrak?’ I said no.”
“He said, ‘We calculated at the retirement dinner.’ He said, ’36 years, 119 days a year back and forth, then as vice presidents we figure you’ve done X number of trips and that adds up to 1,200,000 miles on Amtrak.’”
Negri retired from Amtrak in 1993, meaning he didn’t work there when Biden was vice president, and he died in May 2014, making some versions of the story impossible.
It’s unclear if Biden modified the timing of the story in response to criticism. Earlier this year, he said it happened in “my fourth or fifth year” as vice president, “toward the end of my term” or ” seven years into” his time as vice president.
But the new telling of the story also clashes with facts because Biden didn’t reach one million miles aboard Air Force Two until September 2015, according to a CNN fact check in June.
Biden told the reliable laugh line as he promoted his recently signed $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill, which boosts funding for Amtrak.
Biden, 79, is the oldest-ever president and his critics accuse him of being in mental decline.
But Biden also has faced criticism for years about imprecise or incorrect claims. He dropped out of the 1988 Democratic presidential primary after revelations he exaggerated his academic record and plagiarized both a campaign speech and a law school paper.
Biden most recently told the story about Negri in October at the NJ Transit maintenance facility in Kearny, NJ. Also in October, he told the tale in Scranton, Pa., while urging passage of the infrastructure bill.
Biden told the story in September during an Oval Office meeting with UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, in June during an infrastructure speech in Wisconsin and in April at a train station in Philadelphia. He also told the story last year while campaigning.