Records search doesn’t turn up evidence of ‘unlikely’ Biden claim


Records search doesn’t turn up evidence of ‘unlikely’ Biden claim senator appointed him to the Naval Academy in 1965 – but some years are missing

  • A records search didn’t turn up evidence for a claim President Joe Biden made when he told graduates of the Naval Academy he almost was one of them 
  • The New York Post reported Tuesday that curators for the Delaware Historical Association in Wilmington went ‘box-by-box’ searching through records 
  • Biden said last month he had been ‘appointed to the Academy in 1965 by a senator who I was running against in 1972’ 
  • Delaware Historical Association chief curator Leigh Rifenburg told the paper Biden’s claim was ‘unlikely’ 
  • Biden was already at the University of Delaware in 1965 and the Naval Academy doesn’t offer graduate programs 
  • During a 2010 appearance the then-vice president told a similar story but said he was ‘considered’ for the academy in 1960 
  • The Delaware Historical Association staff  was unable to find appointments for 1961, 1963, 1964 or 1965 and wasn’t listed in 1960 and 1962

A records search didn’t turn up evidence for a claim President Joe Biden made last month when he told graduates of the U.S. Naval Academy he almost was one of them. 

The New York Post reported Tuesday that curators for the Delaware Historical Association in Wilmington went ‘box-by-box’ searching for Naval Academy nominations made by the late Delaware Sen. J. Caleb Boggs in the early to mid-1960s. 

During the May 27 ceremony in Annapolis, Biden told the crowd he had been ‘appointed to the Academy in 1965 by a senator who I was running against in 1972,’ which the chief curator Leigh Rifenburg told the paper was ‘unlikely.’ 

A records search didn't turn up evidence for a claim President Joe Biden made last month when he told Naval Academy graduates in Annapolis he had been 'appointed to the Academy in 1965 by a senator who I was running against in 1972'

A records search didn’t turn up evidence for a claim President Joe Biden made last month when he told Naval Academy graduates in Annapolis he had been ‘appointed to the Academy in 1965 by a senator who I was running against in 1972’

President Joe Biden, pictured in an undated photo, has claimed several times that he almost went to the Naval Academy. The New York Post reported Tuesday that the Delaware Historical Association in Wilmington found no evidence to back that up

President Joe Biden, pictured in an undated photo, has claimed several times that he almost went to the Naval Academy. The New York Post reported Tuesday that the Delaware Historical Association in Wilmington found no evidence to back that up 

‘Our staff devoted a large chunk of last week to this project. We hauled and sorted through a few dozen boxes from the relevant years, which proved to be a needle-in-a-haystack proposition, as we feared,’ Rifenburg said. 

‘To be safe, we searched the full range of dates from 1960 to 1965. It does seem extraordinarily unlikely that an appointment would have been made in 1965, given President Biden’s years of matriculation at the University of Delaware, but we wanted to be thorough,’ she continued. 

‘We were unable to find appointments for entry in 1961, 1963, 1964, or 1965,’ she said. 

In 2010, Biden suggested that it was in 1960 when he was ‘considered’ by Boggs to go to the Naval Academy. 

‘1960, I was a pretty good football player at the University of Delaware, and I was one of the guys that applied to come to this great academy. And a fellow named J. Caleb Boggs considered me, and I thought I was going to be a pretty good ball player,’ the then-vice president said. 

‘And then I found out you had two guys in the backfield back in those days admiral, and I realized I wasn’t going to get a chance to play at all. You had a guy named Staubach, and a guy named Bellino, so I went to the University of Delaware,’ he added. 

Biden made similar points at his commencement address in May.  

‘I didn’t come to the Academy because I wanted to be a football star,’ the president said. ‘And you had a guy named Staubach and Bellino here. So I went to Delaware.’

Bellino and Staubach are the only two football players out of the Naval Academy to win Heisman trophies, doing so in 1960 and 1963, respectively. 

But Biden’s bigger point was that Boggs, his rival in the 1972 election, made a crack about how if the now-president had gone to the Naval Academy he would have been sidelined for their race.  

‘But all kidding aside, the best line of the debate was – after it was all over, the announcer – the questioner who was a good guy but supported my opponent – who was a good man as well, I might add – and he said, “Senator Boggs, you have anything else you want to say?” And he said, “Yes, just one thing.” And he took the microphone. He said, “You know, Joe, if you had accepted my commission to the Aca- – my appointment to the Academy,” he said, “you’d still have one year and three months active duty, and I’d have no problems right now,’ the president said.

Had Biden started at the Naval Academy in 1965 that could have been true – but he was already concluding his undergraduate years at the University of Delaware then, and the Naval Academy doesn’t offer graduate programs. 

Had he gone in 1960, his service would have been concluded by the time he and Boggs ran against each other for the Senate. 

The New York Post pointed out in its initial report about Biden’s speech that the now president’s 2008 biography never mentioned that he considered going to the Naval Academy.  

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