Biden backtracks on claims of being 'arrested' while trying to visit Mandela - reports

2020-02-27 13:04
US Democrat presidential candidate hopeful Joe Biden.

US Democrat presidential candidate hopeful Joe Biden. (File, Getty Images)

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US presidential candidate hopeful Joe Biden has walked back on claims that he was arrested "on the streets of Soweto" on his way to Robben Island while trying to meet with late former president Nelson Mandela.

Biden made the claims recently during a rally in Columbia on February, 11 while on the campaign trail through the US state of South Carolina.

BBC News reported that Biden's deputy campaign manager, Kate Bedingfield, told reporters on Tuesday that he had referred to an episode where "he was separated from his party at Johannesburg airport".

"They, he was not allowed to go through the same door as the – the rest of the party he was with," Bedingfield said.

"Obviously, it was apartheid South Africa. There was a white door, there was a black door. He did not want to go through the white door and have the rest of the party go through the black door. He was separated."

Biden's recollection of what happened has also been rebuffed by Andrew Young, who was the US ambassador to the UN at the time.

READ | Joe Biden claims he was arrested in SA during apartheid - report

Of his supposed attempted rendezvous with Mandela in the 1970s, Biden said: "I had the great honour of meeting him, I had the great honour of being arrested with our UN ambassador on the streets of Soweto trying to get to see him on Robbens (sic) Island…"

Biden's comments were, however, met with scepticism, least of all because of the geographical discrepancies in his recollection, as well as dates that didn't add up.

'Long record fighting apartheid'

Biden further claimed that when Mandela later visited the White House, while Biden was "chairman of the committee", Mandela walked into the private executive room and thanked Biden for trying to come and see him.

"He was the most Christ-like guy I ever met, he's an incredible man…" Biden continued.

Biden made similar remarks five days later in Las Vegas, The Washington Post reported.

READ | Former Trump spokesperson apologises for mocking Joe Biden over stuttering

According to the New York Times, Bedingfield glossed over Biden's claims of the White House meeting by saying: "It was a reference to Mandela coming to D.C. after he was released from prison. He met with Senator Biden, thanked him for his work, his anti-apartheid work."

Bedingfield also cited Biden's "long record fighting apartheid" as one of the leading voices on the issue in the US Senate.

Biden is currently facing stiff competition in his quest to become the Democrats' presidential candidate to go up against US President Donald Trump, with the likes of Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg being more favoured.

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 - Compiled by Denver Keytle

Read more on:    nelson mandela  |  joe biden  |  us  |  us politics  |  politics  |  social media
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