Biden Overstates U.S. Forces in Afghanistan--By 582,000; Calls Combat Troops Part of Romney's 47% Dependent on Gov't

Elizabeth Harrington | September 24, 2012 | 10:12am EDT
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Vice President Joe Biden in Concord, N.H., on Sept. 21, 2012. (AP Photo/Cheryl Senter)

( – Speaking in front of the New Hampshire State House in Concord on Friday, Vice President Joe Biden overstated the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan by 582,000 and said that those troops are part of the 47 percent whom Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said would vote for Obama "no matter what" because they are dependent on government and pay no income taxes.

“By the way, those dependent people he refers to, those 47 percent, they include the 650,000 troops still left in Afghanistan who, because they are in combat, being shot at, injured, they do not have to pay any federal income tax on their salary," Biden said. "I don't call that dependency. I call that ingratitude to not recognize they are a part of that 47 percent.”

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A Biden aide later told ABC News that the vice president meant to say there were 68,000 troops remaining in Afghanistan.

Separately on Friday, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced that the 33,000 additional troops that President Barack Obama had committed to Afghanistan in 2009 as part of his surge policy had now been withdrawn, leaving 68,000 U.S. forces in the country. During the surge, U.S. troop strength in Afghanistan peaked at about 101,000.

At a fundaiser in Boca Raton, Fla., in May, Mitt Romney was secretly videotaped saying: “Well, there are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what, all right? There are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe they are entitled to health care, to food, housing, to you-name-it; that that's an entitlement, that the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what.”

Romney went on to say: "These are people who pay no income tax. Forty-seven percent of Americans pay no income tax.”

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