The former vice-president told an event in South Carolina earlier this month, that he had been forcibly prevented from travelling to Robben Island by South African police during a visit to the apartheid country in the 1970s. Mr Biden said: “This day, 30 years ago, Nelson Mandela walked out of prison and entered into discussions about apartheid. 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 Island.”
The former Delaware senator then told an audience at the Black History Awards in Las Vegas last week, that Mandela had later thanked him for his efforts.
He recounted: “He threw his arms around me and said, ‘I want to say thank you.’
“I said, ‘What are you thanking me for, Mr President?’ He said: ‘You tried to see me. You got arrested trying to see me.'”
However, much to Mr Biden’s embarrassment, Andrew Young, the US ambassador to the UN at the time, denied that any such incident or arrest took place.
In an interview with the New York Times, Mr Young said: “No, I was never arrested and I don’t think he was, either.
“I don’t think there was ever a situation where congressmen were arrested in South Africa.”
Fact-checkers at the Washington Post called the claim “ridiculous” and awarded it four Pinocchios.
In an attempt to spare Mr Biden’s blushes, his campaign manager, Kate Bedingfield, claimed that the former vice-president was referring to an incident when “he was separated from his party at Johannesburg airport”.
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She told journalists: “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.”
Mr Biden is one of the Democratic candidates vying to secure the Democratic presidential nomination for November’s elections.
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He currently trails the front-runner Bernie Sanders in third place, in what has been so far a lacklustre campaign.
However, the former Delaware senator, who has a strong following among African-Americans, is hoping for a strong showing in the South Carolina caucus on Saturday, where two-thirds of the Democratic electorate is black.
In a major boost to his campaign, Mr Biden won the he endorsement of Democratic Congressman James Clyburn, a black lawmaker from the southern state.
Mr Clyburn’s support is seen as key to winning the the state’s black vote.
This comes as a new Gallup poll released this week shows that Donald Trump looks well on course to win a second term as US President.
The new data shows Trump’s approval ratings in positive territory for the first time since his election.
Moreover, an average of polls indicate that Trump’s popularity has actually been increasing ever since impeachment proceedings began back in September 2019.
The Gallup poll gave the US President a 49 percent approval rating and a disapproval rating of 48 percent.
This latest result helps to raise Trump’s average approval rating to 43.3 percent, compared to 52.2 percent disapproving.
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