CLAIM: Joe Biden told rapper Cardi B in their much-discussed Elle magazine interview this week that he has “never” broken his word in all of his life. “Just check me out; I’ve never broken my word. Never in my life,” he said.
VERDICT: FALSE. In his first run for president in the 1988 election, Biden got caught lying about his academic record, claiming that he went to “law school on a full academic scholarship” and “ended up in the top half of my class.” He also claimed that as an undergraduate, he “graduated with three degrees.” None of these claims is true, as Biden himself later confessed to the New York Times.
Joe Biden made the false remarks on television in 1987. He said on C-SPAN during a New Hampshire campaign stop that he “went to law school on a full academic scholarship, the only one in my class who had a full academic scholarship.” He added that he initially didn’t want to be in law school and was in the bottom two-thirds of the class, but then decided to stay and ended up “in the top half of my class.”
Newsweek subsequently ran a story debunking Biden’s claims. The magazine noted that he graduated from Syracuse University’s law school in 1968, but not in the top half of the class — he graduated 76th out of 85. Newsweek noted that Biden received a half scholarship, not a full one.
It also turned out that Biden completed his undergraduate work at the University of Delaware with a single B.A. degree in politics and history, not three degrees as he claimed.
Biden was forced to fess up to the New York Times, saying he had exaggerated in the heat of the moment.
The candidate told the newspaper that his “recollection of this was inaccurate,” adding that “I exaggerate when I’m angry, but I’ve never gone around telling people things that aren’t true about me.”
Video from Biden’s 1987 campaign stop has re-surfaced online. Clips show that Biden’s false statements were widely covered by network news at the time.