Joe Biden has claimed repeatedly on the campaign trail that he reversed his support for the invasion of Iraq as soon as it began, but resurfaced clips from a 2003 interview suggest he continued to defend his pro-war vote for years after the conflict was launched.
Speaking with journalist Fareed Zakaria in September 2003, Biden defended his initial support for the war, saying he “still probably would have voted” to invade Iraq even if “the Lord Almighty” had told him the U.S. occupation would go poorly. When asked by Zakaria if it was a “good idea” for Democrats to “take a strong anti-war position in the next election,” Biden said “I do not.”
“I think there’s a need for more enlightened foreign policy, and I think to make the case that the use of force against Saddam was unjustified is, I think, the wrong case to make,” Biden explained.
ZAKARIA: Do you think its a good idea though for the Democratic Party to take a strong anti-war position in the next election?
BIDEN: I do not….I think to make the case that the use of force against Saddam was unjustified is, I think, the wrong case to make.
(September 2003) pic.twitter.com/0GAN1xNWiZ
— Zaid Jilani (@ZaidJilani) January 7, 2020
The interview came two years before Biden first called his 2002 vote to authorize military force in Iraq a “mistake.”
But the former vice president has suggested multiple times on the campaign trail that he was against the war immediately after it began.
During the Democratic debate in July, Biden said that “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.”
In a September interview with NPR which The Washington Post later called him out for, Biden said “before you know it, we had ‘shock and awe.’ Immediately, the moment it started, I came out against the war, at that moment.”
And on Saturday, Biden told an Iowa voter “from the very moment” President George W. Bush launched “shock and awe” Biden “opposed what he was doing, and spoke to him.”
Biden has repeatedly couched his comments with the claim that his vote for the war happened after Bush privately promised that he was only trying to get weapons inspectors into the country, a characterization that Bush denies.
“I’m sure it’s just an innocent mistake of memory, but this recollection is flat wrong,” Bush spokesman Freddy Ford told NPR in an email.
During the 2012 race, Biden also seemed to imply that he opposed the war effort, saying that while Paul Ryan voted “to put two wars on a credit card . . . I was there. I voted against him.”
While campaigning in New Hampshire in August, Biden fabricated a war story about awarding a medal to a reluctant Navy captain by stitching together details from three separate stories.