Biden responds to women who say his touching made them uncomfortable — but does not apologize
Former Vice President Joe Biden responded — but did not apologize — to women who have recently come forward to say he touched them in ways that felt inappropriate or made them uncomfortable, in a video shared on Twitter Wednesday.
Social norms are changing. I understand that, and I’ve heard what these women are saying. Politics to me has always been about making connections, but I will be more mindful about respecting personal space in the future. That’s my responsibility and I will meet it. pic.twitter.com/Ya2mf5ODts
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) April 3, 2019
“Social norms are changing,” said Biden’s tweet, which was paired with a two-minute long video. “I understand that, and I’ve heard what these women are saying.”
In the video, Biden, who is considering a presidential bid, said that in the “coming month” he expects to talk about many issues, but added, “Today I want to talk about gestures of support and encouragement that I’ve made to women and some men that have made them uncomfortable.”
Biden said that throughout a long career in politics he has taken photos with supporters, shaken hands, offered hugs, and put his hands on people’s shoulders to offer comfort and encouragement.
“It’s the way I’ve always been and it’s the way I’ve tried to show I care about them and I’m listening,” he said, adding, “The boundaries of protecting personal space have been reset. And I get it.”
Biden says in the video that he will be more mindful of people’s space, and that he knows that that his responsibility.
“I’ve worked my whole life to empower women. I’ve worked my whole life to prevent abuse,” the former vice president concludes. “So that idea that I can’t adjust to the fact that personal space is important, more important that it’s ever been, it’s just not thinkable. I will. I will.”
The response comes after four women over the past several days have come forward to say Biden touched them in ways that made them uncomfortable.
Former Nevada lieutenant governor nominee Lucy Flores wrote in New York Magazine that at an event, Biden kissed her on the head, and a woman named Amy Lappos told The Hartford Courant that when she met Biden, he put his hand on her head and pulled their faces so close their noses touched. Lappos said she was worried Biden was going to kiss her, though he did not.
On Tuesday night, The New York Times published the stories of two more women, Caitlyn Caruso and D.J. Hill, who met Biden at separate. events. Caruso said Biden put his hand on her thigh and didn’t move it when she squirmed, and Hill told the paper he put his hand on her shoulder and then began to run his hand down her back.
Biden’s handsy, overly familiar conduct with women has been widely known for years. There are many photos of Biden touching women on the shoulders or whispering in their ears. When former North Dakota Sen. Heidi Heitkamp was sworn in, while posing for a picture with Biden, the then-vice president made a crude joke, saying, “Spread your legs: You’re going to be frisked.”
The former US senator from Delaware is considering joining the already-crowded field of Democrats running for president, a decision he’s drawn out for several months, in part, as several outlets have reported, because of the ongoing conversation about his treatment of women and some of his history in the public eye.
At an event last month in New York, Biden reflected on Justice Clarence Thomas’ Supreme Court confirmation hearings and said he wishes he “could have done something” to prevent attacks by his fellow lawmakers on Anita Hill, the attorney who testified that Thomas, while he was her boss, had sexually harassed her.
As the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Biden ultimately could have done a lot, including allowing the three women who Hill said could back up her allegations to testify.
Though he has not entered the race, Biden is generally considered a frontrunner in the Democratic primary, leading the pack with an average of about 29 percent in the polls, according to the RealClearPolitics average.