All it would take is one quick look at just about any poll, national or otherwise, to tell you former Vice President and current White House hopeful Joe Biden is on a slippery downward spiral. Once the clear frontrunner and most electable candidate, he now struggles to stay in second place behind Vermont Senator and ever candidate Bernie Sanders, thanks to his fondness for telling tall tales.
It was believed that his lack of support in both Iowa and New Hampshire didn’t really matter because when it came to the minority vote, he had it pretty much in the bag. And as we all know, the first two states tend to be a light on diversity.
However, the next two are anything but. Nevada has a large Hispanic population, and South Carolina’s black community rivals it. Therefore, the Biden campaign had it on proper authority that when it came to these states, Sanders would drop, and he would rise.
But that isn’t exactly what happened.
When Nevada’s Democratic caucuses convened on February 22, Sanders showed he had much more of the minority vote than previously expected. He came in with 46 percent of the overall vote and 72 percent of the Hispanic vote. Meanwhile, Biden only had 11 percent.
And it is this evident drop in minority support that has led to a whole new string of blunders on the former V.P.’s part.
According to multiple sources, including the New York Times, Biden is now claiming that he was arrested during South Africa’s apartheid while trying to visit none other than Nelson Mandela.
Biden told voters, “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 Robbens Island.”
According to the Times, Biden stated this while talking to a crowd of potential voters in South Carolina recently. And he made similar claims while in Nevada speaking at a black history awards ceremony.
However, as anybody who spent any quality time in history or geography class knows, there are a few problems with Biden’s story.
Mandela was indeed imprisoned on Robben Island (note the lack of an “s”) in South Africa. And Biden did, in fact, go to South Africa in the 1970s. However, this if off the coast of Cape Town, not Soweto, which, as several social media users have pointed out, is nearly 900 miles away from Robben Island.
Furthermore, Andrew Young, who was the U.N. ambassador for the U.S. at the time, doesn’t have the same memories of the trip. He told the Times, “No, I was never arrested, and I don’t think he was either.”
At the time, Biden was a senator from Delaware, and as Young stated, it would have been highly unlikely for a U.S. congressman to have been arrested in South Africa. He said, “Now, people were being arrested in Washington. I don’t think there was ever a situation were congressmen were arrested in South Africa.”
You’d think if this actually happened, someone would remember it. But nobody does. And, naturally, arrest records for South Africa are not exactly the most accessible here in the U.S.
The Times brings up another valid point as well. If such a thing did occur, why is this the first time we are hearing of it? Why wouldn’t Biden have used it before now? Surely, it would have been relevant in at least one of his many political campaigns over the years.
“But if Mr. Biden, then a United States senator from Delaware, was in fact arrested while trying to visit Mr. Mandela, he did not mention it in his 2007 memoir when writing about a 1970s trip to South Africa, and he has not spoken of it prominently on the 2020 campaign trail. A check of available news accounts by the New York Times turned up no references to an arrest.”
The general consensus is that this is something Biden has recently thought up in an attempt to get more of the black vote he is apparently losing back. But as we can already see from Nevada’s results, it isn’t working. And with as many flaws as there are in the story, it’s unlikely to help anywhere else either.