- The Washington Times - Friday, February 28, 2020

Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden admitted Friday that he was not arrested in South Africa in the 1970s, despite repeatedly making that claim on the campaign trail.

“I wasn’t arrested, I was stopped. I was not able to move where I wanted to go,” he said on CNN.

While pursuing the Democratic presidential nomination, Mr. Biden on several recent occasions said he was arrested while attempting to visit Nelson Mandela in prison in South Africa during apartheid.

He also recalled how Mandela thanked him for the brave gesture.

“This day 30 years ago, Nelson Mandela walked out of prison and entered into discussions about apartheid. I had the great honor of meeting him. I had the great honor of being arrested with our U.N. ambassador on the streets of Soweto trying to get to see him on (Robben) Island,” Mr. Biden said this month at a campaign event in South Carolina.

He made similar claims in Nevada before that state held caucuses last week.

Mr. Biden is running strong in South Carolina and aiming to reenergize his campaign with a win in the state’s first-in-the-South primary Saturday.

The New York Times raised doubts about Mr. Biden’s arrest story soon after he began sharing it with voters. The newspaper could not find any mention of the arrest in news reports at the time of Mr. Biden’s visit.

Mr. Biden in his memoir also did not mention the arrest or the thank you from Mr. Mandela, which he recently claimed was delivered with a warm embrace when Mandela as South Africa’s president visited Washington.

“He threw his arms around me and said, ‘I want to say thank you,’ ” Mr. Biden told the Nevada Black Legislative Caucus Black History Awards Brunch. “I said, ‘What are you thanking me for, Mr. President?’ He said, ‘You tried to see me. You got arrested trying to see me.’ “

On Friday, Mr. Biden said the arrest was more of an inconvenience during a visit when he accompanied the Congressional Black Caucus.

“They had me get off a plane. The Afrikaners got on in the short pants and their guns. Led me off first and moved me in a direction totally different,” he told CNN. “I turned around and everybody, the entire black delegation, was going another way. I said, ‘I’m not going to go in that door that says white only. I’m going with them.’ They said, ‘You’re not, you can’t move, you can’t go with them.’ And they kept me there until finally, I decided that it was clear I wasn’t going to move.”

• S.A. Miller can be reached at smiller@washingtontimes.com.

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