Another testy exchange between Fox News’ Peter Doocy and White House spokesperson Jen Psaki, this time about the border crisis. Speaking of the CNN townhall last night, Doocy asked “Why did President Biden say he has been to the border?”
“Well, Peter, as you may have seen, there’s been reporting that he did drive through the border when he was on the campaign trail in 2008,” Psaki replied.
We’ll pause here for a moment because the question of whether or not Biden has ever visited the border is actually the subject of a fact check by the Washington Post today.
We did our own search through the Lexis-Nexis database and also could not find a record of a visit. There were many Senate hearings in which the border situation was discussed with Biden in attendance, but that’s not the same as an actual visit…
But after digging some more, we discovered that Biden briefly drove past the border while on a campaign swing in 2008.
On Oct. 17, he held a rally in Mesilla, N.M. The press officer on the trip, David E. Wade, told The Fact Checker that the plane landed at the El Paso airport and then the motorcade took the nearly one-hour drive to the suburb of Las Cruces. The drive took Biden along a route that for a few minutes hugs the border of the United States and Mexico. “For most of us, it was unfamiliar territory,” Wade said, who recalled that some reporters joked about crossing the border during the event…
the president was asked a question about when he would visit the border, and he responded that he has “been there before.” It turns out it was a brief drive-by — not the kind of sustained visit that his critics are demanding. It’s almost like counting a refueling stop as a visit to a country. But it’s enough that we will leave this unrated.
Why the fact-checker decided not to rate this for “omissions and exaggerations” is a real mystery. Biden literally said, “I’ve been there before” when all he did was drive by in a car on the way somewhere else.
Based on Kessler’s description, i.e. Biden landed at the El Paso airport and took a one hour drive to Las Cruces that went near the border, here’s the path he probably took (in blue). Notice this route from the airport to Las Cruces takes about an hour and briefly skirts the border with Mexico (in red).
Google informs me that the total distance of that past nearest to the border is about 2.1 miles. So assuming the motorcade was moving at freeway speeds, Biden apparently spent roughly 2 minutes near the border back in 2008. That’s the extent of his visit. And thanks to Google street view, here’s what Biden would have seen for that 2 minutes looking across the freeway into Mexico:
Kessler compares Biden’s claim (that he has been to the border) to counting a flight layover in another country as a visit to that country. That’s not a good analogy. What Biden is doing is more like claiming you visited a country because your plane flew over a corner of it for two minutes without even landing. How is this absurd claim not worthy of a even a single Pinocchio?
In any case, this drive-by border visit is apparently the only time in Biden’s long career that he has ever been near the border. That may explain why Psaki was so eager to offer a filibuster answer about Biden being “well-versed in every aspect” of the immigration system. She wrapped up her spiel by saying, “He does not need a visit to the border to know what a mess was left by the last administration.” Psaki really ought to check out the reporting from the Washington Post which has made it very clear the Biden administration is responsible for this mess.
When she finally ran out of steam, Doocy asked again, “Does that count as a visit? He said I’ve been there before. You’re saying he drove by for a few minutes, does that count?”
Rather than answer that question, Psaki tried to dodge by asking Doocy a question and then said, “The president does not believe a photo op is the same as solutions.” You’ll notice that’s not an answer. Also, as Doocy was quick to point out, it contradicts what Biden said last night, i.e. “I guess I should go down [to the border].” It seems he does think you need to show up at some point.
This is just a trainwreck of an exchange but the fact that the White House is claiming Biden’s 2-minute drive past the border 13 years ago counts as a visit really is astounding. Needless to say, if Trump had made a claim like this I doubt the fact-checkers would be going easy on him.