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Joe Biden’s personal story about Amtrak conductor called into question

U.S. President Joe Biden has been called out over a confusing personal account he shared during an appearance in Philadelphia last week. During an innocuous public appearance, Joe Biden told a touching personal anecdote. But upon closer examination, the facts don’t add up. On Friday, Mr. Biden commemorated the 50th anniversary of Amtrak, which operates many of America’s railroads.

The President is a bit of a train enthusiast. During his decades serving in the Senate, he commutes to Washington D.C. from his home in Wilmington, Delaware, earning himself the nickname “Amtrak Joe”.

During his appearance in Philadelphia, Mr. Biden launched into a touching, if rather longwinded, tale about when he reached 1.5 total million miles (2.4 million km) traveled on Amtrak. He said this happened during his “fourth or fifth year as vice president”, and an Amtrak conductor personally congratulated him.

“When I became vice president, one of the Capitol Hill papers estimated that I had taken over 7000 round trips on Amtrak. I think that’s an exaggeration,” Mr. Biden said.

“I’m going to rely on two conductors. One of them was a guy named Angelo Negri. An article says, ‘Biden travels 1.3 million miles on Air Force Two.’

Joe Biden

“The Secret Service didn’t like it, but I used to want to take the train home. My mum was sick, and I’d try to come home almost every weekend as vice president to see her.

“I was getting on the train, and Angelo Negri came up, and he goes, ‘Joey, baby.’ He grabbed my cheek and started to squeeze it like he always did. I thought, ‘He’s going to get shot.’ I’m serious. I said, ‘No, no, he’s a friend.’ “He said, ‘Joey, what’s the big deal, 1.2 million miles on Air Force Two? You know how many miles you’ve traveled on Amtrak?’ I said, ‘No, Angelo, I don’t know.’

“He gave me the calculation and said, ‘You traveled 1,515,000 miles on Amtrak.’ The fact is, I’d probably take Angelo’s word before I took the word of what the article said.”

The point of this story, Mr. Biden said, was that “Amtrak became my family” over the years.

You get to know everybody. You get to know the folks,” he said.

“I used to have a Christmas party for Amtrak employees at home. It got so big we ended up having it as a summer party because family and retirees kept coming back.

“Amtrak wasn’t just a way of getting home. It provided me, and I’m not joking, another family.

“I’ve been to many weddings, christenings, and, unfortunately, some burials. We’re family.”

You get the picture. He’s a bit sentimental about Amtrak.

So, why is this story confusing? Because the facts don’t appear to add up.

Mr. Biden was vice president from 2009-2017, so when he says this interaction with Mr. Negri took place, it would have been around 2013. Give or take a year.

There are two problems with the story. First, the President’s mother, Catherine Finnegan, died in 2010. According to Mr. Negri’s obituary, more significantly, he retired from Amtrak in 1993, decades earlier. He died in 2014.

It is plausible that Mr. Biden knew Mr. Negri, who worked for Amtrak for many years in the Senate. The specific conversation he described, however, is implausible.

Molly Aronson

I'm an award-winning blogger who enjoys all things creative but is especially passionate about lifestyle design. I blog over at mehlogy.com I love that I get to share my passion for healthy living, fashion, fitness, and travel with readers from all over the world.

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