Former Vice President Joe Biden backed away Friday from his claims that he'd been arrested in apartheid-era South Africa while seeking to meet with then-leader Nelson Mandela, saying instead he was "stopped" by police officers.
“When I said ‘arrested’ I meant I was not able to move," Biden said on CNN's "New Day" "Cops would not let me go with them and made me stay where I was. I guess I wasn’t arrested, I was stopped, I was not able to move where I wanted to go."
He added that he'd strongly opposed apartheid, and had traveled with members of the Congressional Black Caucus to South Africa.
"They had me get off a plane," he recalled, without specifying the date. "They led me off first and moved me in a direction totally different. I turned around and the entire black delegation was going another way. I said 'I'm not going to go in that door that says white only. I'm going with them.'"
Biden added that he was kept back "until finally (they) decided it was clear I wasn't going to move."
"So what they finally did, they said, okay, they'll not make the congressional delegation go through the black door. They're not going to make me go through the white door," said Biden. "They took us...memory serves me...through a baggage claim area up to a restaurant."
And when Mandela was freed and came to the United States, Biden said, "he came in my office. He was one of the most incredible men I met. He thanked me for trying to -- all the work I did on apartheid. So that's the context of it."
Biden has claimed while campaigning for the Democrats' presidential nomination in Las Vegas and South Carolina that he was arrested 30 years ago while trying to visit Mandela.
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