President Joe Biden’s retelling of a minor fire at his Delaware home that occurred 15 years ago is facing renewed backlash after he told victims of the deadly Maui wildfires Monday that he shared a “little sense” of what they were going through.
While visiting the fire-devastated remains in Maui, the president recalled the fire that began at his Wilmington home due to lightning.
“I don’t want to compare difficulties, but we have a little sense, Jill and I, of what it was like to lose a home,” said Biden. “Years ago, now 15 years, I was in Washington doing ‘Meet the Press.’…Lightning struck a home on a little lake outside the home. Not a lake. A big pond. It hit the wire and came up underneath our home, into the … air condition ducts.”
“To make a long story short, I almost lost my wife, my ’67 Corvette, and my cat.”
Biden has repeated the story multiple times in recent years in an attempt to connect with natural disaster victims.
An Associated Press report from 2004 said lightning struck the Bidens’ home and started a “small fire that was contained to the kitchen.”
According to the report, firefighters got the blaze under control in 20 minutes, and they were able to keep the flames from spreading outside the kitchen.
The Republican National Committee posted videos on Tuesday that showed President Biden telling multiple story variations.
In October of last year, the president told victims of Hurricane Ian in Florida that he lost “an awful lot” of his home because of the fire.
In January 2022, President Biden told Colorado, wildfire victims he “almost” lost his home to fire and that the fire destroyed around 25% of it. But when speaking to the Summit on Fire Prevention and Control in October 2022, he said smoke from the fire destroyed “everything” from the basement to the attic, and “we almost lost a couple firefighters” who had responded to the fire.
Biden said in November 2021, he “had a house burn down with my wife in it. She got out safely, God willing.”
In November 2021, the president said he “had a house burn down with my wife in it. She got out safely, God willing.”
Biden’s Maui comments drew comparisons with his interactions with Gold Star Families
Biden’s Monday comments to the Maui fire victims drew comparisons to when he was accused of showing a lack of empathy for the Gold Star families of service members killed in the Kabul terrorist attack during the military withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2021.
Several Gold Star families remember Biden repeatedly talking about the death of his son Beau, who ultimately died of brain cancer but served in the Army in Iraq.
“It is the callousness Biden showed toward the Gold Star Families after his Afghanistan withdrawal,” posted GOP Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas on X, formerly known as Twitter. “The cruelty and lack of empathy show Biden’s real character.”
Several Gold Star families have continued speaking about Biden’s treatment toward them after the terrorist attack at the Kabul airport that killed 13 U.S. service members on August 26, 2021.
Republican Representative Darrell Issa of California said he’s still awaiting a response from the White House about a meeting he requested between President Biden and the families, who will be in Washington, D.C., this month.
After her brother died in Kabul, Cheyenne McCollum said the president wouldn’t look her family in the eye and spent their three-minute conversation talking about Beau.
“I was able to stand about 15 seconds of his fake, scripted apology, and I had to walk away,” said McCollum in 2021.
Shana Chappell, mother of Lance Corporal Nikoui, wrote a scathing post on Facebook saying the president hijacked the conversation by talking about Beau and then rolling his eyes when she challenged him.