As allegations from women who claim former Vice President Joe Biden touched them inappropriately continue to trickle out, Biden has released a video promising to be more “respectful” of women’s personal space. According to a report in The Hill, Biden was seeking to head off a “growing political crisis” surrounding his as-yet unannounced candidacy for president in 2020.
In the video, Biden acknowledged the four women who have now come forward with allegations that the former senator from Delaware made them uncomfortable or otherwise was disrespectful of their personal space during encounters with him at public events. One thing Biden notably didn’t do was to directly apologize, instead offering a pledge to be more careful in the future when it comes to physical contact.
“I hear what they’re saying. I understand it. I’ll be much more mindful. That’s my responsibility, and I’ll meet it.”
The 76-year-old Biden also pointed to the fact that he comes from a different time, and suggested that while he may have violated modern norms in terms of physical contact in the eyes of the women who spoke out as well as others, he nonetheless has learned from the situation.
“Social norms have begun to change, they’ve shifted, and the boundaries of protecting personal space have been reset, and I get it.”
Biden also defended his propensity for physical contact by saying that “scores if not hundreds” of people have approached him seeking comfort in difficult times during his tenures in various offices as well as during his time as a public figure. He added that his philosophy excludes a politics that is “cold or antiseptic,” and instead favors human contact to help give people solace and establish a connection.
“I’ve always thought about [politics] as connecting with people, shaking hands, a hand on the shoulder, a hug or encouragement,” he said.
However, observers noted that one of the women who has stepped forward to point out a moment with Biden that made her uncomfortable was 19 at the time of the alleged incident, and said that she tried to squirm away from Biden after he rested a hand on her thigh and reportedly hugged her “just a little bit too long.”
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
The video adds Biden’s own voice to those of several prominent women, including Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), actor and political activist Alyssa Milano, and others who have defended him, characterizing the touching that others have found creepy as simply a sign of Biden’s authenticity.