“Our social norms have begun to change — they’ve shifted. The boundaries of protected personal space have been reset and I get it. I get it. I hear what they’re saying,” he said in a video posted Wednesday.
Former vice president and potential 2020 presidential hopeful Joe Biden is addressing claims that he acted inappropriately towards multiple women and is vowing to “be more mindful” in a new video posted Wednesday to his Twitter account.
“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,” he said to start the clip. “In my career, I’ve always tried to make a human connection — that’s my responsibility I think. I shake hands, I hug people, I grab men and women by the shoulders and say, ‘You can do this.'”
Biden explained that he’s always been this way and that it’s his way of showing he cares, and over the years he’s found that people have reached out to him for “solace and comfort.”
“I’ve never thought of politics as cold and antiseptic. I’ve always thought it was about connecting with people,” he said, adding, “Now, it’s all about taking selfies together. Our social norms have begun to change — they’ve shifted. The boundaries of protected personal space have been reset and I get it. I get it. I hear what they’re saying. I understand it, and I’ll be much more mindful — that’s my responsibility and I’ll meet it.”
Biden said he still believes that “governing, or life for that matter, is about connecting with people,” but that he’d be more mindful of personal space in the future.
Biden concluded by explaining that he has spent his whole life working to help and empower women and “the idea that I can’t adjust to the fact that personal space is more important than it’s ever been, is unthinkable — I will, I will.”
Amy Lappos, a former aide to Democratic Rep. Jim Himes of Connecticut, said Monday that Biden touched her face with both hands and rubbed noses in 2009. Former Nevada politician Lucy Flores penned a magazine essay last week in which she wrote that Biden kissed her on the back of the head in 2014. Two more women told The New York Times on Tuesday that they also felt uncomfortable in some interactions with the former vice president.
The developments underscored the challenge facing Biden should he decide to seek the White House. Following historic wins in the 2018 midterms, Democratic politics is dominated by energy from women. The allegations could leave the 76-year-old Biden, long known for his affectionate mannerisms, appearing out of touch with the party as the Democratic presidential primary begins.
Bill Russo, Biden’s spokesman, didn’t directly respond to Lappos’ allegations, instead referring to a Sunday statement in which Biden said he doesn’t believe he has acted inappropriately during his long public life. The former vice president said in that statement: “We have arrived at an important time when women feel they can and should relate their experiences, and men should pay attention. And I will.”
Biden hasn’t made a final decision on whether to run for the White House. But aides who weren’t authorized to discuss internal conversations and spoke on the condition of anonymity said there were no signs that his team was slowing its preparations for a campaign.
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