Patrick Semansky / AP
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden was “wrong — and not just by a little” during a Wednesday campaign stop in Michigan when he tried to claim COVID-19 was devastating America’s military, according to CNN.
Biden said there had been 6,114 “military COVID deaths” and 118,984 service members infected with the coronavirus.
“This is wrong — and not just by a little,” CNN reported in its fact check of the claim.
The true number of military deaths from COVID-19 was seven as of Wednesday, the Department of Defense said on its website.
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That means Biden’s estimate was 873 times the actual fact.
The number of service members infected stood at 40,026, the DOD said, almost 79,000 cases lower than what Biden reported.
Biden’s comment raised more than a few eyebrows on Twitter:
Was wondering whose “wild claims” he got confused with. 😉https://t.co/KwFJkRGAu5
— _mzishi_ (@_mzishi_) September 9, 2020
This is just sad. Not only does @JoeBiden get the number of military COVID deaths disastrously wrong (a factor of 1,000) but he also struggles to read basic numbers. And the search for his notes is too jarring to be funny. Joe ain’t all there. https://t.co/fDyET1U0cp via @YouTube
— Joel Pollak (@joelpollak) September 10, 2020
Biden looks down at paper: “Military covid infected: 118,984. Military covid deaths: 6,114. Folks, everyone of these lives matter. Everyone of these lives left someone behind, grieving.”
DOD says there have been 40,026 military cases & 7 military deaths.https://t.co/xcjZymOACQ https://t.co/fBd54zaBwG
— JERRY DUNLEAVY (@JerryDunleavy) September 9, 2020
The Biden campaign later said the former vice president used the numbers of coronavirus cases and deaths in Michigan rather than those in the military.
“Vice President Biden has the utmost respect for the men and women of the armed services and believes it’s the sacred duty of our country to properly equip them, look after their families when they’re deployed, and care for them when they return,” Biden campaign Deputy Rapid Response Director Michael Gwin told Fox News.
“To honor their service, the Vice President carries with him each day a card detailing the number of Americans who have given their lives for our country in Iraq and Afghanistan, and frequently cites that number to recognize their sacrifice,” he said in a statement.
Biden has overstated the impact of COVID-19 before.
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In June, he claimed that 120 million Americans had died from the disease. As of Thursday, 191,702 Americans had died, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.
The Trump campaign has often seized upon Biden’s flubs:
Joe Biden: “Covid has taken this year, just since the outbreak, has taken more than 100 year, look, here’s, the lives, it’s just, when you think about it.” pic.twitter.com/D3dDY6njfD
— Trump War Room – Text TRUMP to 88022 (@TrumpWarRoom) August 31, 2020
Biden’s gaffes might not be fatal, one commentator said.
“I think the circumstances of 2020 are well-suited to Biden’s strengths and weaknesses,” Stephen Farnsworth, director of the Center for Leadership and Media Studies at the University of Mary Washington, told the Sinclair Broadcast Group.
“Because of COVID, Biden is not as visible as many candidates would have been in the past, and that means that the limited number of public appearances can be carefully choreographed, minimizing the risk of missteps.”
Farnsworth said that given the number of Americans who will either support or oppose President Donald Trump no matter what, “Of all the elections in the last 50 years, this may be the one in which the smallest number of minds are changed by what the candidates do.”
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