WASHINGTON — Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr., his presidential campaign under siege, admitted today that he committed plagiarism in law school 23 years ago but dismissed the furor over his failure to attribute the words of others in his speeches as "much ado about nothing" and said he was in the race to stay.
At an extraordinary Capitol Hill news conference, the Delaware Democrat released law school records that disclosed his plagiarism at Syracuse University in 1965 and said, "I did not intentionally move to mislead anybody.
"I did something very stupid 23 years ago," Biden said. "Little did I know I would be standing before the whole world acknowledging the fact I did not know how to write a legal memorandum, and the mistake is costing me as much as it is costing me."
Admits Series of Errors
Biden also admitted a series of errors in not attributing quotes correctly in several campaign speeches this year. But Biden said fellow presidential hopeful Jesse Jackson called to say he also uses phrases Biden has been accused of lifting.
Saying all candidates use "certain generic quotes" from past leaders, he charged that the controversy is meaningless.
"I am being honest. . . . The American people will judge. I think it's much ado about nothing," said an obviously tense Biden.
"In the marketplace of ideas in the political realm, the notion that for every thought or idea you have to go back and find and attribute to someone is frankly ludicrous."
He rejected the notion that his admission of errors in speeches suggests that he cannot control himself.
"I feel very capable of using my mouth in sync with my mind," he said.
'In This Race to Stay'
And Biden declared that he will fight on for the Democratic nomination.
"I want to tell them all. I'm in this race to stay. I'm in this race to win. And here I come," he said.
Biden repeatedly suggested that the stories about his speeches and law school record came from his opponents, although he said he could not identify any one campaign, Republican or Democratic, as the source.
"I don't like dirty campaigns," he said.