Biden on South Africa Arrest Story: I Was Talking About Being 'Strongly Opposed to Apartheid'

March 1, 2020

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden on Sunday claimed he was talking about being "strongly opposed to apartheid" when questioned about falsely telling supporters he was arrested in South Africa.

"What I was doing was talking about the fact that I was strongly opposed to apartheid," Biden said during an interview on Fox News Sunday.

Anchor Chris Wallace said Biden had told supporters he was arrested while trying to see Nelson Mandela, who was imprisoned in South Africa, at least three times on the campaign trail and asked the candidate if he was "confused or just trying to embellish a story."

Biden retold the story about how he was separated from the Congressional Black Caucus at an airport in South Africa in 1977 and was forced to go through a racially segregated doorway labeled "white," despite initially refusing. He then told Wallace that he should have said he was "detained," not arrested.

The Washington Post awarded Biden a "Four Pinocchio" rating last week for his repeated claim, calling it "ridiculous."

"Biden has never been shy about tooting his own horn. So it’s pretty surprising that on the eve of a primary critical to his election hopes, he suddenly recalls being arrested in South Africa — and being thanked by Mandela for being arrested," the Post said. "There is no evidence for either claim; neither appears remotely credible. Biden earns Four Pinocchios."

Biden admitted on CNN Friday that he wasn't actually arrested, saying, "I wasn't arrested, I was stopped. I was not able to move where I wanted to go."

Wallace was the only Sunday morning news anchor to ask Biden about his false arrest claim.