Biden’s Strange Cheek-Grabbing Amtrak Story Doesn’t Quite Add Up

OPINION | This article contains political commentary which reflects the author's opinion.

Biden shared a story about an Amtrak conductor that allegedly congratulated him for riding 1.5 million miles but some of the details seem screwy, according to Fox News.

“When I became vice president, one of the Capitol Hill newspapers estimated that I had taken more than 7,000 round trips on Amtrak over my career.”

“I think that’s an exaggeration. I’m going to rely on those two conductors … one of them was a guy named Angelo Negri,” Biden stated.

“There was an article, I guess my fourth or fifth year as vice president, saying Biden travels 1,300,000 miles on Air Force One [Two].”

“I used to – the Secret Service didn’t like it – but I used to like to take the train home.”

“My mom was sick and I used to try to come home almost every weekend as vice president to see her.”

“I got on the train and Angelo Negri came up and he goes, ‘Joey, baby,’ and he grabbed my cheek like he always did.”

“I thought he was going to get shot. I’m serious. I said, ‘No, no, he’s a friend.’

“He said, ‘Joey, what’s the big deal? 1,300,000 miles on Air Force Two?”

“Do you know how many miles you traveled on Amtrak?’ I said, ‘No, Angie, I don’t know.’ He gave me the calculation and he said you traveled 1,500,000 miles on Amtrak.”

“The fact is, I’d probably take Angie’s word before I’d take the word of what the article said.”

Some of the details he shared seemed like they didn’t quite connect all the dots.

“A few months ago, Vice President Joe Biden crossed the million-mile mark aboard Air Force Two – the official plane of the Vice President.”

“… I wanted to give you a sense of what those more-than 1 million miles have looked like these past seven years,” David Lienemann stated back in 2016.

“And General Austin is – just met with Kayani and I’m waiting for the briefing on that,” Biden remarked.

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From Fox News:

Biden’s comments have flown under the media radar so far. However, a few elements of the story seemed out of place. Biden entered the fourth year of his term as vice president around 2013, and Negri’s obituary states he retired from Amtrak in 1993, while Biden was still a senator. Meanwhile, Biden’s mother, Catherine Eugenia Finnegan, died in 2010.

Additionally, Biden’s office celebrated him hitting 1 million miles on Air Force Two in 2015.

Biden’s remarks are in the White House transcript of the event nearly word-for-word. But the administration made headlines in March for quietly correcting a gaffe Biden made during a news conference in which he appeared to mix up the names of Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani and the controversial former head of Pakistan’s military.

But the official White House transcript of the briefing now says “Ghani” instead of Kayani.

Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani departed the Pakistan military in 2013. In a retrospective on Kayani’s leadership, The New York Times reported that Kayani was often accused of “double-dealing and bad faith.”