Former vice president Joe Biden, in a two-minute video released Wednesday, defended past behavior of close contact with women that has come under recent scrutiny, but also said he’s able to change.
The response from Biden, who is laying the groundwork for a potential presidential run, came a day after two more women shared stories of encounters with him that they alleged were inappropriate. Their comments followed similar complaints from two other women.
“I want to talk about gestures of support that I’ve made to women and some men that have made them uncomfortable,” Biden said, seated on a couch and speaking directly to the camera. “I’ve always tried to make a human connection. That’s my responsibility, I think. . . . It’s the way I’ve always been. It’s the way I try to show I care about them and listening.”
But despite that, Biden said, he is going to be “mindful” of people’s boundaries going forward.
“The boundaries of protecting personal space have been reset. I get it. I get it. I hear what they’re saying and I understand it,” he said. “I’ll be much more mindful. That’s my responsibility and I’ll meet it.”
Biden stopped short of apologizing for his past behavior, instead circling back to his previous defense that politics is about human connection.
Questions about Biden’s behavior with women have flared since Friday when Lucy Flores, a politician in Nevada, shared her first-person account of an alleged incident with Biden at a campaign event when she claims he kissed the back of her head.
Since then, Amy Lappos alleged Biden rubbed noses with her at a fundraiser, and on Tuesday the New York Times published stories of two women who also allege Biden touched them in ways that they say were not appropriate.
Biden’s propensity for being affectionate, once brushed off as “Biden being Biden” is now being viewed through a #MeToo lens. It could prove problematic for his expected presidential run, especially since some women have not forgiven him for his handling of Anita Hill’s testimony in 1991 at the confirmation hearing for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, which he oversaw.
But Biden’s defenders point to his work sponsoring the Violence Against Women’s Act and combating sexual assault on campus as examples of how he’s led on these issues throughout his career.
In the video, Biden also defends his record.
“I worked my whole life to empower women, to prevent abuse, so the idea that I can’t adjust to the fact that personal space is important — more important than it’s ever been — is just not thinkable,” he said. “I will. I will.”