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Biden Claimed He Was In Top Half Of Law Class

September 21, 1987

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Sen. Joe Biden claimed during a campaign appearance in New Hampshire last spring that he finished in the top half of his law school class, although records indicate he finished near the bottom.

In a videotape aired by the public service cable network C-SPAN several months ago, the Delaware Democrat was asked at a campaign stop in Claremont, N.H., on April 3 about what law school he attended and how well he did.

On the videotape, a clearly angered Biden told the questioner: ″I think I probably have a much higher IQ than you do.

″The first year in law school I decided I didn’t want to be in law school and ended up in the bottom two-thirds of my class and then decided I wanted to stay and went back to law school and in fact ended up in the top half of my class,″ he went on.

But last week Biden released his law school records showing he had graduated 76th in a law school class of 85. The law school transcript also showed he made little progress in class standing through the three-year course, ranking 80 out of 100 in the first semester of the first year, and 79th out of 87 the second semester of his second year.

Biden has been deviled about questions in the last 10 days about his law school career and his use of others’ words in his speeches without credit. He revealed last week that he committed plagiarism in law school and took a course over to make up for the error.

In the videotape, Biden went on to say, ″I went to (Syracuse) law school on a full academic scholarship.″

The records he released last week indicated he had a $800 scholarship from the school out of a total tuition of $1,620 as well as $1,000 in room and board from his work as a residence adviser in a dorm and student loans.

″I won the international moot-court competition. ... I was the outstanding student in the poitical science department (as an undergraduate). ... I graduated with three degrees from undergraduate school ... And I’d be delighted to sit back and compare my IQ to yours if you’d like, Frank,″ Biden told the questioner.

The tape was aired April 10 and 12 as part of the network’s ″Road to the White House″ series, C-SPAN spokeswoman Nan Gibson said.

Newsweek magazine said Biden does not mention the moot court competition on his resume, and did not win the political science award at University of Delaware, where he received a single B.A. in political science and history.

Biden told the New York Times he was ″frustrated″ and ″angry as hell″ about the Newsweek report.

″It’s so easy to make things look like there’s something sinister about them,″ he said. ″I guess every single word I’ve said is going to be dissected now.″

Of his class ranking in law school, he said, ″I exaggerate when I’m angry, but I’ve never gone around telling people things that aren’t true about me.″

Asked if his candidacy would survive the accusations, Biden said, ″I think if I can get by the next week, I can pull out of this. If I can just get my story across.″

Meanwhile, the Legal Times of Washington reported today that Biden’s plagiarism at Syracuse University law school leaked out after the former law school dean discussed it at a dinner early this month.

The weekly publication said that Craig Christensen, dean of the law school until Aug. 15, talked about the incident in Biden’s freshman year in 1965 during a Sept. 4 dinner with three other law school officials.

Christesen denies he mentioned anything specific in Biden’s record.

″I did say that as in the case of almost anyone’s file, you could make a problem of something in the file, but I did not specifically label the problem,″ he told the Legal Times.

One of those at the dinner discussed the matter with a reporter, who then began asking questions in Washington about the record of the Delaware Democrat. Those inquiries triggered rumors about Biden’s school record as other newspapers were reporting that Biden had lifted sections of his speeches from other politicians without credit.

At last Thursday’s news conference, Biden admitted he had committed plagiarism during the first-year course. But he said it was inadvertent and that he took the course over.

Biden said opponents were spreading the stories about him to embarrass him during the confirmation hearings of Robert Bork to the U.S. Supreme Court. Biden chairs those Judiciary Committee hearings.

Another participant at the dinner, who did not want to be identified, said Christensen did mention plagiarism and did not ″even present it as confidential.″ The newspaper did not identify where the dinner took place, except to say it occurred after the meeting of the Law School Admissions Council, an advisory group of law school admissions officials.

Christensen did admit he said he could understand why ″Sen. Biden didn’t want his record released.″

In documents released at the Biden news conference, there is a letter from Christensen to Biden dated June 11, 1987, saying he had taken ″extra security precautions with respect to your file,″ placing it in the dean’s safe with the notation it was not be opened except by the dean.

Christensen was an associate from 1964-1966 at the Chicago law firm of Kirkland and Ellis, where Bork worked from 1955-1962.

″I want to make it abundantly clear that based on anything I have ever seen in that file or heard about Sen. Biden, that I do not believe there is any flaw in his character,″ Christensen added.

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