Washington Post Fact Checker Glenn Kessler
has given Vice President Joe Biden "four Pinocchios" for his stunning claim that he’s friends with Somali cab drivers at the Wilmington, Delaware, train station.
Biden also received a "Pants on Fire" rating from PolitiFact
for the comment, which he made earlier this week while speaking to representatives from 60 countries at the three-day White House Summit on Countering Violent Extremism.
"Somalis have made my city of Wilmington, Delaware, [their home] on a smaller scale," said the vice president at the conference. "There is a large, very identifiable Somali community.
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"I might add if you ever come to the train station with me, you’ll notice I have great relationships with them because there’s an awful lot driving cabs and are friends of mine. For real. I’m not being solicitous. I’m being serious."
CNN has since talked to cab companies
in the state, and reported that they have no knowledge of Somali drivers working in Wilmington, although they mentioned that there were cabbies from other African countries.
After Kessler twice called Biden’s office to ask for further information and not receiving any calls back, the Fact Checker conducted his own inquiry.
He found that 75,000 Somali refugees had settled in the United States in the past decade, according to the Office of Refuge Settlement. But its last report showed that since 2000, not one of them had arrived to live in Delaware.
Kessler found there were just 8,000 people living in the state born in Africa, with only about 4 percent involved in "transportation and warehousing, and utilities."
PolitiFact, meanwhile, learned that there are just 15 people in Delaware with Somalian ancestry. Since 2000, Delaware has accepted 269 refugees, mostly from West Africa, not East Africa where Somalia is located, the Post noted.
"That does not leave room for many taxi drivers," wrote Kessler. "So did Biden simply assume the West African taxi drivers he encountered were from Somalia? Did he actually encounter the rare Somali taxi driver or two in Wilmington? Or did he simply invent this story in an effort to ingratiate himself with his listeners?"
Saying that it was "outrageous" that Biden had not returned his or PolitiFact’s calls, Kessler continued, "Some readers might dismiss this as 'Joe being Joe,' given the many weighty issues to fact check.
"But we disagree. As an elected official, the vice president has an obligation to set the record straight, no matter how embarrassing his behavior.
"The burden of proof rests with the speaker, and here the preponderance of evidence suggests there are not 'an awful lot' of Somalis driving taxi cabs in Wilmington, Del. The vice president earns four Pinocchios."
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