The US president continues to maintain that his attempt to meet Nelson Mandela in prison was “stopped.”
US Vice President Joe Biden has admitted that he “wasn’t detained” when attempting to see Nelson Mandela, the leader of the South African anti-apartheid campaign, in prison. On Friday, he confessed while meeting with the nation’s current president at the White House. But Biden persisted in saying that his attempt to see Mandela was “stopped.”
The first time Nelson Mandela visited the United States, in 1990, while Biden was still a senator, the president recalled, “he asked if he could come by my office and he came by to say thank you because he heard I had been stopped trying to get to visit him, to see him in prison,” describing it as “one of the great moments of [his] career” to visiting South African President Cyril Ramaphosa.
And I mentioned that I was once arrested. I was stopped and prohibited from moving; I wasn’t arrested, Biden said.
Even the friendly Washington Post called the president’s claim that he was detained while attempting to visit Mandela during the 2020 election to be “crazy” because there were 760 miles between the alleged arrest location in Johannesburg and Mandela’s jail on Robben Island.
Another congressman on the trip refuted that version as well, saying there was “no problem[s] with airports at any of the countries we visited” and that Biden “wasn’t the only white guy on the trip.” His campaign later went back on its claim that he was merely “separated” from other congressmen at an airport in 1976 because he refused to comply with apartheid’s rules and use a separate door from the Congressional Black Caucus members he was
In addition, Biden has repeatedly and falsely claimed that he was detained while participating in civil rights protests in the 1960s, even though his political opponents have pointed to his support for the three strikes law, the mandatory minimum sentence, and the 1994 crime bill as indicators of his less progressive views on race. His supporters point to his senior age—he is the US’s oldest president ever at 79—as an explanation for his occasionally shaky relationship with the truth, even though a plagiarised speech and false credentials nearly put an end to his political career when he was much younger.
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