News and Commentary

Obama Says He Once Broke Schoolmate’s Nose For Calling Him Racial Slur

Tale differs a bit from story published in his book "Dreams of My Father"
US President Barack Obama gestures to supporters as he arrives onto the stage for a campaign rally October 4, 2012 at the University of Wisconsin- Madison in Madison, Wisconsin. Obama returned to the campaign trail after taking part in the first presidential debate on October 3, 2012 in Denver. AFP PHOTO/Mandel NGAN (Photo credit should read
MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images

Former President Barack Obama says he once broke the nose of one of his basketball teammates for calling him a racial slur.

In a podcast with rock star Bruce Springsteen this week, Obama recounted the story.

“Listen, when I was in school, I had a friend. We played basketball together,” Obama told Springsteen on Spotify’s “Renegades: Born in the USA.”

“And one time we got into a fight and he called me a c**n,” Obama said of the alleged argument that took place in the locker room. “Now first of all, ain’t no c**ns in Hawaii, right?”

“It’s one of those things that — where he might not even known what a c**n was — what he knew was, ‘I can hurt you by saying this,’” Obama said.

“And I remember I popped him in the face and broke his nose. And we were in the locker room… I explained to him — I said, ‘Don’t you ever call me something like that.’”

After hearing the tale, Springsteen applauded the move, saying, “Well done.”

The former leader of the free world mentioned the incident briefly in his 1995 memoir “Dreams of My Father,” but it’s reportedly the first time he’s spoken about the incident publicly.

In the book, Obama described racial tension growing up in Hawaii and finding solace on the basketball court before being called the slur.

“My mind would run down a ledger of slights: the first boy, in seventh grade, who called me a c–n; his tears of surprise  — ‘why’dya do that?’ — when I gave him a bloody nose,” he wrote.

Politicians have a way of adding to stories as the years pass.

President Joe Biden this week revived a story he told years ago that he was “shot at” overseas, mirroring a claim once made by Hillary Clinton about which she later said she “misspoke.”

In a short address to State Department employees, Biden said, “You have great personal courage. I’ve been with some of you when we’ve been shot at.” He offered no further details of the incident.

Back in 2007, Biden was forced to walk back a similar claim during a CNN-hosted Democratic presidential debate. Then, he said he was “shot at” inside Baghdad’s fortified Green Zone.

“Let’s start telling the truth,” he said at the debate. “Number one, you take all the troops out — you better have helicopters ready to take those 3,000 civilians inside the Green Zone, where I have been seven times and shot at. You better make sure you have protection for them, or let them die, number one.”

Biden later said, “I was near where a shot landed.”

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