“He took a trip with a [congressional delegation] in the 70s,” Biden communications director Kate Bedingfield said in the post-debate spin room. “He was separated from the [Congressional Black Caucus] members he was traveling with at the airport, when he landed. When making that remark, he was talking about his long record fighting apartheid; he was one of the leading voices in the United States Senate in the 80s. There’s a very powerful clip, which we’ll make sure all of you have, of him taking on Reagan’s secretary of state, George Schultz, on this issue, when the Reagan administration was looking to go soft on sanctions against South Africa for the apartheid policy. He was an incredibly aggressive voice against that. It was an important part of his career, as he went on to become chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.”
Asked again in the media scrum if Biden was “arrested,” Bedingfield reiterated that Biden was “separated from the group he was with at the airport.” Asked on the way out of the room about other details shared by Biden — that he was arrested while trying to visit Mandela on Robben Island and that Mandela had thanked him during a visit to Washington, Bedingfield referred again to the airport separation.