No, Joe Biden did not say he attended Delaware State University.
But DSU is now pushing back against conservative media outlets reporting that Biden falsely said he attended the school, the only historically Black university in the state.
This past week, conservative media outlets like Fox News, the Washington Times and The Blaze reported that Biden lied about attending DSU, and that the school refuted those claims.
But while it is factually accurate that the university confirmed that Biden did not attend DSU, the media reports have mischaracterized the university’s response, and have taken Biden’s statements out of context, said Carlos Holmes, a spokesman for the university.
Biden said he got his “start” at DSU during a town hall in Florence, South Carolina, ahead of the 2019 primaries. The video clip has been circulating the internet this week, after a reporter from the Washington Times asked DSU officials if Biden ever attended the school.
What followed was a slew of media reports slamming Biden for claiming to have attended an HBCU. President Donald Trump’s campaign has even cited the claim as one of the “17 questions Joe Biden must answer” in tonight’s first presidential debate.
But the video and Holmes’ answer has been “mischaracterized” by certain media outlets, and “used to portray Biden in a dishonest light,” Holmes said.
“I took it to be the question of a fact-checker or someone who needed clarity over whether he attended Delaware State University or the University of Delaware,” Holmes said in an emailed statement. “The reporter did not mention anything about his campaign statement last year, and at that point, I was totally unaware of it.
Last weekend, I found out that the inquiry and my response was being used by some media to portray Biden in a dishonest light.”
In the video, the former vice president was not implying that he attended the university, but rather referring to the support he received from the school when he announced his bid for U.S. Senate on the DSU campus in 1972, Holmes said.
In the decades since, Biden has maintained close ties with DSU, serving as commencement speaker and receiving an honorary doctorate in 2003. The current university president, Tony Allen, is a former Biden speechwriter and was recently selected to serve on Biden’s advisory board for the campaign’s presidential transition team.
“Watched in full context, it is clear that Biden was discussing his long association with historically Black colleges and universities, not making a claim that he had attended Delaware State University,” Holmes said.
Biden has often referenced to his time as a student at the University of Delaware, where the Joseph R. Biden, Jr. School of Public Policy and Administration bears his name.
Natalia Alamdari covers education for The News Journal. You can reach her at (302) 324-2312 or [email protected]
This article originally appeared on Delaware News Journal: No, Joe Biden did not say he attended Delaware State University