President Biden said Tuesday that Delaware firefighters nearly died battling a small fire in his kitchen in 2004 — even though a local fire official said at the time that the blaze was quickly extinguished.
Biden often turns heads with questionable biographical claims and made the remark while attesting to the bravery of firefighters during virtual remarks to a fire prevention summit.
“I was doing ‘Meet the Press’ and lightning struck a little pond behind my house, came up through the ground into the air conditioning system and ended up generating thick black smoke,” Biden said of the blaze at his home in Wilmington, Del. “And from the basement to the third floor, the attic, everything was ruined.
“And the kitchen floor — we almost lost a couple firefighters, they tell me, because the kitchen floor was — the burning between the beams and in the house in addition to, it almost collapsed into the basement,” the president added.
Biden drew criticism just last week for telling a less detailed version of the story to Hurricane Ian victims in Florida, saying “we know the feeling” of experiencing significant home damage.
“We didn’t lose our home, but lightning struck and we lost an awful lot of it,” Biden said.
At the time of the fire at Biden’s home, Cranston Heights, Del., Fire Company Chief George Lamborn told The Associated Press, “Luckily, we got it pretty early. The fire was under control in 20 minutes.”
The Post could not immediately reach Lamborn or a member of the Cranston Heights Fire Company for comment on Biden’s latest account.
The president’s telling of the house fire has garnered scrutiny for years, including when Biden said last November, “I know, having had a house burn down with my wife in it — she got out safely, God willing — that having a significant portion of it burn, I can tell: 10 minutes makes a hell of a difference.”
Biden, who turns 80 next month, is the oldest-ever American president and critics routinely question his mental fitness — with focus on his wellbeing increasing last month when Biden searched for the late Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.) at an event, despite publicly mourning her death eight weeks earlier.
But Biden’s habit of sharing false biographical details stretches back decades and he routinely gives inaccurate information in a bid to build a personal connection with his audiences.
Biden told an audience last week in Puerto Rico that “I was sort of raised in the Puerto Rican community at home, politically.” Only about 2,000 Puerto Ricans lived in Delaware when he was launching his career and his biographies contain no information about interacting with the small community.
Biden last September told Jewish leaders that he remembered “spending time at” and “going to” Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue in 2018 after the worst anti-Semitic attack in US history, in which 11 people were murdered. The synagogue said he never visited and the White House later said he was thinking about a 2019 phone call to the synagogue’s rabbi.
Later that month, Biden told an Idaho audience that his “first job offer” came from local lumber and wood products business Boise Cascade. The company said his story was news to them.
In January, Biden told students at historically black colleges in Atlanta that he was arrested multiple times while protesting in favor of civil rights — another claim for which there is no evidence.
Biden said at the Naval Academy’s graduation ceremony in May that he was appointed to the military school in 1965 by the late Sen. J. Caleb Boggs (R-Del.). A search of Boggs’ archives failed to turn up evidence of the appointment.
And Biden has told at least eight times as president a chronologically impossible tale involving a former Amtrak conductor to underscore his love of passenger rail — most recently last month while hosting union negotiators in the Oval Office to celebrate the apparent aversion of a major rail strike.
Biden admitted last month to South African President Cyril Ramaphosa that “I wasn’t arrested” trying to visit Nelson Mandela during the apartheid era, despite saying so at least three times in 2020.
The president’s bad press for sharing false biographical details dates back to at least the 1980s. He ended his first presidential campaign in 1987 due to a scandal involving plagiarism of speeches and a law school paper.
On the stump, Biden lifted from British politician Neil Kinnock to describe “my ancestors, who worked in the coal mines of Northeast Pennsylvania and would come up after 12 hours and play football for four hours” — but Biden’s ancestors did not mine coal.
Before he dropped out of the 1988 presidential primary, Biden also falsely claimed that he “graduated with three degrees from college,” was named “the outstanding student in the political science department,” “went to law school on a full academic scholarship — the only one in my class to have a full academic scholarship” and ”ended up in the top half” of his class.
None of those claims were true.