Biden camp explains arrest claim, says he was ‘separated’ on trip to see Nelson Mandela


Presidential candidate Joe Biden’s campaign has clarified statements by the former vice president that he was arrested while visiting anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela in South Africa during a congressional delegation trip in the 1970s. 

“He was separated from his party at the airport,” Kate Bedingfield, a deputy campaign manager, told the New York Times after the Tuesday night Democratic debate in Charleston, S.C.

Earlier this month in South Carolina, a state where nearly a third of the population is black and Biden supporters claim he will prevail, the former vice president said, “I had the great honor of being arrested with our U.N. ambassador on the streets of Soweto trying to get to see [Mandela] on Robben Island.”

As the Times noted, Soweto is more than 700 miles away from Robben Island, where Mandela was being held. Andrew Young, who was the U.N. Ambassador at the time, told the Times he was not arrested with Biden. 

“No, I was never arrested and I don’t think he was, either,” Young told the paper.

“It was a separation,” Bedingfield clarified to the Times. “They, he was not allowed to go through the same door that the — the rest of the party he was with. 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. This was during a trip while they were there in Johannesburg.”

The Biden campaign did not immediately respond to an inquiry from The Hill.

Tags Apartheid Joe Biden Joe Biden Joe Biden 2020 presidential campaign Kate Bedingfield Mandela Nelson Mandela
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