FACT CHECK: Did Joe Biden Never Get More Than 1 Percent When He Ran For President?

Emily Larsen | Fact Check Reporter

President Donald Trump said that former Vice President Joe Biden never got more than 1 percent of the vote when he ran for president.

Verdict: Unsubstantiated

Biden has never campaigned for president in a general election, but he has competed unsuccessfully for the Democratic Party nomination twice.

Trump’s claim is worded vaguely, leaving it open to interpretation. While Biden never earned more than 1 percent of the delegate count at a party convention, he did get more than 1 percent of the vote in a couple of state primaries during the 2008 presidential race.

Fact Check:

Trump cited Biden’s presidential election record after he said that he would like to run against him in the 2020 presidential election.

“I dream about Biden. That’s a dream,” Trump said in an interview with CBS News on July 19. “Look, Joe Biden ran three times. He never got more than 1 percent, and President Obama took him out of the garbage heap, and everybody was shocked that he did.”

Biden actively campaigned for president in the 1988 and 2008 election cycles. He thought about campaigning for president in 1984, and even filled out paperwork for his candidacy in the New Hampshire Democratic primary.

But he ultimately decided not to submit the paperwork. “I had no intention of running in 1984, and the people closest to me knew that,” Biden wrote in his 2007 memoir.

Nonetheless, Biden still got one delegate vote in support of naming him the Democratic Party nominee for president at the 1984 Democratic National Convention – 0.03 percent of the vote.

He officially campaigned to secure the Democratic nomination for president in the 1988 cycle, but withdrew from the race in September 1987 before there were any primaries or caucuses. News stories published in the days leading up his withdrawal showed that parts of Biden’s speeches were similar to passages in other public figures’ speeches and revealed that he had plagiarized an article while in law school at Syracuse University.

Biden said that he had misunderstood the rules of citation when he committed plagiarism, according to files in his law school records. As for the speeches, aides said that they meant to include attribution in one of them and that he was paying homage to historical leaders in others.

Despite dropping out of the race, Biden got two votes – 0.05 percent – when delegates at the 1988 Democratic National Convention chose the party’s nominee for president.

Biden sought the Democratic presidential nomination again 20 years later in 2008. After coming in fifth place in the 2008 Iowa Caucus on Jan. 3, earning 0.9 percent of the vote, he withdrew from the race.

Biden did get more than 1 percent of the vote in a couple of state primaries after he had suspended his campaign, however. He got 3 percent of the vote in Delaware – his home state – on Feb. 5. In the Louisiana primary on Feb. 9, he earned 1.6 percent of the vote.

Somewhat ambiguously, Trump said that Biden “never got more than 1 percent.” If he was referring to Democratic primaries, then his claim is incorrect. But if Trump was thinking of Biden’s performance in the 1984, 1988 and 2008 Democratic National Conventions, then he is correct. The White House did not respond to a request for comment.

Former President Barack Obama, then a senator, later chose Biden to be his running mate in 2008. Biden became his party’s nominee for vice president at the 2008 Democratic National Convention by acclamation, with no votes cast, and he did not receive any delegate votes for president at the convention. Obama and Biden were elected president and vice president in 2008 and re-elected in 2012.

Biden told the Los Angeles Times that he planned on entering the 2016 presidential race but decided not to because his adult son Beau Biden passed away in 2015 after battling brain cancer.

Though he performed poorly in presidential contests, Joe Biden has successfully run for state and local office. He served as a senator from Delaware from 1973 to 2009 after unseating incumbent Republican Sen. J. Caleb Boggs in the 1972 election and won six re-election races. Before his Senate career, Biden served as a New Castle County councilman.

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Published: Wednesday, July 25, 2018

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Emily Larsen

Fact Check Reporter


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