Fact Check

Did Biden Say 'We Choose Truth Over Facts'?

U.S. President Joe Biden once called himself a "gaffe machine," and the description is accurate.

Published Jan 16, 2023

 (Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Image Via Alex Wong/Getty Images
Claim:
While campaigning in Des Moines, Iowa, for the U.S. presidency in August 2019, former Vice President Joe Biden said, "We choose truth over facts."
Context

Biden flubbed a line he often repeated during campaign speeches, "We choose truth over lies," instead saying, "We choose truth over facts."

On an Aug. 8, 2019, presidential campaign stop at the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines, former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden uttered a baffling sentence that has been much-quoted ever since. As can be heard just after the 14:20 mark of the video below, Biden said, "We choose truth over facts." 

Rather than waste time trying to figure out what he may have meant by that, we'll simply stipulate that in another of his famous verbal gaffes, Biden flubbed the line he meant to say, "We choose truth over lies." 

For context, here is the full run from Aug. 9, including gaffe: "We choose unity over division. We choose science over fiction. We choose truth over facts."

For comparison, here is that same run, from a speech Biden gave on March 16 of that year (before he had officially announced his candidacy for president): "We've got to understand that we Democrats, we choose hope over fear. We choose unity over division and we choose truth over lies."

Here it is again, in a speech he gave on April 30: "We choose hope over fear. We choose unity over division. We choose truth over lies and we choose science over fiction." 

He was actually saying it as far back as October 2018: "We choose hope over fear. We choose unity over division. We choose allies over enemies. We choose truth over lies." 

Did Biden once say, "We choose truth over facts"? Yes, the quote is correctly attributed to him. But the evidence shows that isn't what he meant to say. 

Sources

"Biden Tells Iowans: 'We Choose Truth over Facts.'" Washington Examiner, 8 Aug. 2019, https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/news/truth-over-facts-biden-fumbles-during-iowa-speech.

CNN.Com - Transcripts. https://www.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/1904/30/ebo.01.html. Accessed 11 Jan. 2023.

Full Speech: Joe Biden on the Register's Political Soapbox | Iowa State Fair 2019 (2/23). www.youtube.com, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=92q0iNuJArw. Accessed 11 Jan. 2023.

"Joe Biden in Cedar Rapids: 'America Is so Much Better than This.'" The Des Moines Register, https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/news/politics/2018/10/30/joe-biden-iowa-cedar-rapids-finkenauer-hubbell-2020-caucus/1773431002/. Accessed 11 Jan. 2023.

Saenz, Arlette. "Biden Almost Announces He's Running for President in Delaware Speech | CNN Politics." CNN, 17 Mar. 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/03/16/politics/biden-delaware-speech/index.html.

 

David Emery is a Portland-based writer and editor with 25 years of experience fact-checking rumors, hoaxes, and contemporary legends.

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