- Former Vice President Joe Biden delivered an on-camera statement about allegations of inappropriate behaviour with women.
- Biden said “social norms” are changing, pledging to alter his behaviour to fit new boundaries.
Former Vice President Joe Biden posted a video on Wednesday addressing the accusations that he has been inappropriate and invaded the personal space of multiple women.
In the more than two-minute video, Biden said that cultural norms about personal space have changed, promising to respect others in a way that’s different from his past interactions, which he described as hugging embraces and other physical displays of affection.
“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 said. “Whether they’re women, men, young, old, it’s the way I’ve always been. The way I’ve tried to show I care about them and I’m listening.”
Biden added that he has helped people experiencing considerable tragedies in their lives by embracing them in such a manner.
“And over the years – knowing what I’ve been through, the things that I’ve faced – I’ve found that scores, if not hundreds, of people who’ve come up to me and reached out for solace, comfort, something, anything that may help them get through the tragedy they’re going through,” he said.
“And so it’s just who I am. And I’ve never thought of politics as cold and antiseptic,” he added. “I’ve thought about connecting with people. As I said, shaking hands, hands on the shoulder, a hug of encouragement. And now it’s all about taking selfies together.”
Biden characterised backlash from often viral images of him embracing women at public events as a result of changes in what is socially appropriate but vowed to moderate his behaviour going forward.
“Social norms have begun to change – they have shifted. And the boundaries of producing 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,” he said. “That’s my responsibility. My responsibility, and I’ll meet it. I’ll always believe – governing quite frankly for that matter – is about connecting with people. That won’t change, but I will be more mindful and respectful of people’s personal space. And that’s a good thing. That’s a good thing.”
He finished the recorded statement by saying that he has worked his entire career to advance women’s rights and protections from abuse, including helping author the Violence Against Women Act of 1994.
“I’ve worked my whole life to empower women,” Biden said. “I’ve worked my whole life to prevent abuse. So the idea that I can’t adjust to the fact that personal space is more important than it’s ever been is just unthinkable. I will. I will.”
The accusations against Biden prompted a handful of 2020 Democratic presidential candidates to demand he address the issue head-on, but none said the allegations disqualified him from jumping into the race, if he chooses to.
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.