The saga of Joe Biden’s mysterious story from the 1960s, in which he and a man called Corn Pop almost battled with a knife and a chain but ultimately did not, may have been confirmed.
Mr Biden has told the story of a 1962 confrontation with a man who frequented a public pool in Wilmington, Delaware where he was a lifeguard several times, including in his book. But a video of him retelling it at an event in 2017, at the pool’s dedication ceremony after it was renamed for him, resurfaced earlier this week.
The story raised eyebrows, especially in light of a series of inaccuracies that emerged from a story Mr Biden told last month about an incident in which he met a war hero in Afghanistan.
In the video, Mr Biden says that in 1962 he told a black man who went by the nickname Corn Pop to stop playing around on the pool’s diving board. When Corn Pop would not stop, he called him “Esther”, referring to the movie star Esther Williams, who was known for her aquatic dancing.
“Corn Pop was a bad dude,” Mr Biden told the crowd in the video. He was reputed to be leader of a local gang called The Romans.
According to the former vice president, Corn Pop was so offended by the Esther comment that he challenged Mr Biden to a fight outside. Mr Biden wrapped a chain around his wrist, but Corn Pop had a knife. To avoid a physical confrontation, Mr Biden apologised for calling him Esther Williams, thus, it appears, defusing the situation and reaching a satisfying moral conclusion about standing up for yourself but avoiding violence where possible.
The Washington Post previously reported that Corn Pop’s real name was William Morris, and that his friends and family remember his relationship with Mr Biden, if not the specific pool incident.
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Now, Mr Morris’s son, Leon Morris, wants people to know that his father wasn’t really a knife-wielding villain.
In a series of tweets, CNN journalist Daniel Dale confirmed that the younger Mr Morris “said he has no problem at all with Biden telling the story from the 60s, but he doesn't want people to think of his dad as a bad guy based on something in the distant past”.
He said his father was a "good kindhearted man who would do anything for anybody. He was always polite and respectful to everyone, that’s what he always taught me to be."
Mr Morris was born after the alleged pool incident, according to Mr Dale’s tweets, but said that his relatives told him his father did talk about Mr Biden, referring to "some type of run in or something with my dad".