Presidential hopeful Joe Biden is on the defensive after reportedly mistelling a story on the campaign trail about a heroic Navy captain. Biden has been telling some version of the story for years.
"This guy climbed down a ravine, carried this guy up on his back under fire," the former vice president said during a campaign stop in New Hampshire last week. "The general wanted me to pin the Silver Star on him. I got up there, and this is the God's truth, my word as a Biden. He stood at attention. I went to pin it on him. He said, 'Sir, I don't want the damn thing. Do not pin it on me, sir. Please, sir, do not do that. He died! He died!'"
But according to the Washington Post, who spoke to more than a dozen military and campaign sources, "Biden got the time period, the location, the heroic act, the type of medal, the military branch and the rank of the recipient, as well as his own role in the ceremony" wrong.
Biden's story appears to have some truthful elements. In 2011, Biden did award a medal to Army Staff Sergeant Chad Workman after the soldier tried to retrieve a dying comrade from a burning vehicle. Workman told the Post he felt Biden "really understood" his situation.
But the soldier at the center of Biden's searing campaign story received the Medal of Honor from President Obama.
Biden is unapologetic, telling reporters the essence of the story, about military bravery, loss and guilt, is true.
In an interview Thursday, Biden called the criticisms "ridiculous," saying, "...The central point is it was absolutely accurate what I said ... The story was that he refused the medal because the fella he tried to save, and risked his life saving, died. That's the beginning, middle and end."
If Biden were to win his party's nomination, he would be running against President Trump who, The Washington Post notes, has made more than 12,000 false or misleading statements of his own since he took office.
Bidenthat, in some quarters, have provoked questions about his age.
"We choose truth over facts," Biden said at the Iowa State Fair.
"Poor kids are just as bright and just as talented as white kids," Biden said at a different event.
Biden, for his part, has said voters will decide for themselves if those mistakes are important.
"I say if they're concerned, don't vote for me," Biden said.
No one has accused Biden of lying or exploiting military sacrifice. For Democratic voters, the question may be is this a sign that more than Biden's memory is at fault or just that his facts are wrong but his passion is right.