WASHINGTON — Former Vice President Joe Biden on Thursday told of his wife’s family’s harrowing experience of being trapped by a fire with their young grandson inside, saying the blaze also destroyed their home and was nearly fatal.
Biden’s comments at a discussion at the Brookings Institution were the latest example of how his long list of embellished stories over the years has become a liability for him ahead of his bid for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination. Biden’s own explanation for embellishing his son Beau’s death in 2015 still needs attention after his comments this week that he doesn’t believe in doctors.
The former vice president and his wife, Jill Biden, were at a house in Wilmington, Delaware, in January 2015 when a fire began inside. Many in the tight-knit Biden family believe it started after an electrical malfunction in a cabinet.
The fire destroyed the home as well as Jill Biden’s parents’ house. Because the house in Delaware was owned by the former first lady’s relatives, her daughters’ apartment was also destroyed. Delaware officials, saying they were running low on state firefighters, eventually decided to remove most of the debris from the property and start fresh.
Biden, whose ex-wife and young daughter also died in the fire, said his family’s ordeal reminded him of how people in the South, such as his mother and two of his five brothers, suffered through long periods of hardship.
“It took us a very long time to be able to recover,” Biden said.
Hours after the fires, Biden said he “lost the roof over my head, they lost the roof over their heads.” In fact, the fire struck shortly after 5 p.m. – the time he was speaking – and by 8 p.m. most of the firefighters left the scene.
Biden has said he would vote against a budget deal that includes new funds for President Donald Trump’s long-threatened border wall and has pledged to support Nancy Pelosi, the House Democratic leader, if she is elected speaker.