— President Biden, remarks during a briefing with fire officials in Boise, Idaho, Sept. 13
We’d written earlier about a misguided Republican effort to claim that the White House cut off a feed of Biden’s remarks when he started asking questions — that was always the plan, according to the schedule — but a reader alerted us to another controversy concerning this event.
Did Biden make up a nonexistent job interview?
As regular readers know, we’ve documented several times when Biden has told a story that did not exactly happen — or even happen at all — as he described it. He was not arrested in South Africa while trying to visit Nelson Mandela. He didn’t participate in civil rights marches, except for picketing a movie theater. He didn’t travel 17,000 miles with Chinese leader Xi Jinping.
Given Biden’s long history in Delaware, it certainly seems a surprise that he would say that he and his first wife once considered moving to Idaho. His remarks are a bit disjointed. He clearly says that he interviewed for a job with Boise Cascade, the paper-products company. He also mentions “my first job offer” but it’s unclear if he means he received one from the company or if the offer came from another firm in the state.
The New York Post assumed he meant that he got a job offer from Boise Cascade and headlined its story: “Biden claims ‘first job offer’ from Idaho lumber company, but it’s news to them.”
Boise Cascade spokeswoman Lisa Tschampl told The New York Post: “We have no record of President Biden’s application or of him having worked for the company.”
That’s not quite the whole story.
As the Idaho Statesman noted: “In the 15th paragraph, the Post story said Tschampl ‘allowed that it’s possible’ Biden applied at Boise Cascade, but ‘records were lost when the company dropped some of its past projects.’ What the Post didn’t quite manage to say was that the Boise company, which was founded in 1957 and employs 6,200 workers today, doesn’t have any employment applications going back that far.”
Tschampl sent an additional statement to the Statesman: “Boise Cascade Co. does not have job applications from 50 years ago, so we can neither prove nor disprove President Biden’s statement.”
Indeed, the company has gone through many iterations over the last half-century. When Biden would have applied 53 years ago, the company, then known as Boise Cascade Corp., had a diverse portfolio of businesses beyond forest products, such as plastic manufacturing, textiles, real estate and so forth. For a time it was even known as OfficeMax. The paper and timberland company that exists today had been spun off to a private equity firm before becoming a public company again in 2013.
It’s hard to imagine any job-application records would still exist after all of that corporate reshuffling.
Still, as the New York Post reported, Biden does not mention any such interest in Idaho in his 2007 autobiography “Promises to Keep.” In 1968, his final year in Syracuse University’s law school, he wrote, his first wife “Neilia and I still hadn’t settled on where we were going to live, so I hadn’t accepted a job.” But then his father sets in motion a meeting that leads to a job in a law firm in Wilmington.
The New York Post said that a search of Nexis and Factiva databases turned up no record of Biden mentioning the company. We also did not find anything mentioning Boise Cascade — but during our searching of Nexis, we did find a news clip from 2013 in which an aide at the time, Bruce Reed, described how Biden often said he nearly moved to Idaho as a young man.
Reed said his current boss, Joe Biden, a Syracuse University law school graduate, has a soft spot in his heart for Idaho.
“He almost moved to Boise to practice law,” Reed said. “He still talks about it.”
He added, “He’s always trying to find some political reason to come here.”
Reed, a native of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, is currently deputy White House chief of staff.
The Pinocchio Test
Whether Biden ever applied to Boise Cascade is unclear and probably will never be settled, unless an old application turns up in his records. But we did find evidence that he has in the past spoken of how he nearly moved to Boise to practice law. As a newly-minted lawyer, it’s logical that he might have sought employment in the general counsel’s office of one of Idaho’s biggest companies.
So we will leave this unrated.
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