Former Vice President Joe Biden, prior to his announcement earlier this year that he’s running for president in 2020, was the subject of some negative stories about his “handsiness” with women.
While there have been no accusations of full-on sexual harassment against the candidate, Biden has, over the years, frequently been photographed placing his hands on women in a way that they say made them uncomfortable, per Vox.
Biden issued a statement in March, per the Twitter account of his spokesman, in which he said that “in many years on the campaign trail and in public life, I have offered countless handshakes, hugs, expressions of affection, support and comfort. And not once — never — did I believe I acted inappropriately. If it is suggested I did so, I will listen respectfully.”
The controversy doesn’t appear to have hurt the former vice president’s campaign standing. Since officially getting into the race, Biden has held a large and consistent lead in polls taken of the Democratic primary field. However, there have been occasional stories about Biden saying or doing inappropriate things, including one on Wednesday.
Per reporter Liz Goodwin on Twitter, Biden was campaigning in Iowa and met the granddaughter of a voter. When he asked her age, she said she was 13. He then turned to the girl’s brothers and said, “You’ve got one job here, keep the guys away from your sister.”
That question followed reports from a Texas appearance by Biden last month in which the former vice president, per The Washington Examiner, took a question from a 10-year-old girl and went on to put his hands on her shoulders, while also saying, “I’ll bet you’re as bright as you’re good-looking.”
The Iowa statement led to some perplexed reactions as to why Biden keeps doing this. Some believe such stories will become a problem later in the campaign, especially if he ends up the general election opponent against President Trump. Others challenged the notion that it’s the responsibility of brothers to protect the chastity of their sisters.
“Is it too much to hope that Democratic primary voters realize they have other candidates, some of whom are excellent?” political journalist Jeet Heer tweeted.
“There is a pattern here that merits noting!!!” journalist Emma Roller tweeted in reaction to the quote.
“Joe Biden’s commitment to norms apparently includes traditional gender norms, no matter how outdated or regressive they happen to be,” writer Sarah Jones said on Twitter.