Biden 'misspoke' on opposing the Iraq War 'immediately': Biden adviser

An adviser says Biden misspoke when he said he immediately opposed the Iraq War

September 9, 2019, 3:56 PM

Former Vice President Joe Biden “misspoke” when he said he “immediately” opposed the Iraq war after the invasion began, according to a senior adviser for the Biden campaign.

In an interview with NPR in Iowa last Tuesday, Biden stated his immediate opposition to invading Iraq.

"[Bush] looked me in the eye in the Oval Office. He said he needed the vote to be able to get inspectors into Iraq to determine whether or not Saddam Hussein was engaged in dealing with a nuclear program," Biden said on The NPR Politics Podcast, Sept. 3.

"He got them in and before you know it, we had 'shock and awe.' Immediately, the moment it started, I came out against the war at that moment. Now the judgement of my trusting a president to keep his word on something like that, that was a mistake and I apologize for that,” Biden continued.

But a Washington Post fact check found that statements from Biden in 2003 and 2004 show the then-senator stood by his vote to authorize military force in 2002, even after the initial invasion of Iraq in 2003.

Biden’s senior adviser, former Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken issued a statement to The Washington Post, saying Biden was mistaken when he said he immediately opposed the war.

“Vice President Biden misspoke by saying that he declared his opposition to the war immediately. He opposed the way we went to war and the way the war was being carried out. He has for many years called his vote a mistake and takes full responsibility for it,” Blinken said in the statement to the Post.

Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden approaches reporters to answer questions following a campaign stop at Lindy's Diner in Keene, N.H., Aug. 24, 2019.
Michael Dwyer/AP, FILE

“Once the war began, then-Senator Biden was immediately clear in his opposition to how we got into the conflict and the way it was being conducted — including the failure to exhaust diplomacy or enlist allies, the reliance on and hyping of faulty intelligence, and the absence of a viable plan to win the peace. He was adamant that, however misguided the war, we owed it to our troops to support them, and he fought for investments like MRAPs [Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles] that saved hundreds of lives from IEDs.”

Biden’s stance on the Iraq War has been well documented, as Biden served as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee from 2001 to 2003.

In 2002, Biden worked on a bipartisan resolution that would have limited President Bush’s ability to take military action in Iraq to destroy possible weapons of mass destruction that ultimately was defeated, before voting to authorize the use of military force in October of that year.

Ahead of the 2003 invasion of Iraq, Biden expressed concerns with the Bush administration's handling of the situation—without support from a large international coalition or a U.N. resolution of support.

However, despite expressing his concerns and disagreements with the Bush administration, Biden continued to stand by his vote until 2005, when he said his support for the war was a mistake

“It was a mistake. It was a mistake to assume the president would use the authority we gave him properly,” Biden said on NBC’s "Meet the Press" in November 2005.

“I never argued that there was an imminent threat. We gave the president the authority to unite the world to isolate Saddam. And the fact of the matter is, we went too soon. We went without sufficient force. And we went without a plan.”

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