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Joe Biden released a video Wednesday saying he’s always been about “connecting with people” but he’ll work to improve on respecting personal space.
He didn’t offer an apology to the women who came forward recently to say he made them uncomfortable by his inappropriate touching at various public events. His longtime touchy style has become a major topic of discussion in political circles as he’s expected to announce a 2020 presidential run.
The former vice president talked about how people want to take selfies with him, how he grabs both men and women by the shoulder because he wants to make a “human connection,” and how the boundaries of protecting personal space are “reset.”
“I grab men and women by the shoulders and say, ‘You can do this,’” Biden, 76, said. “Whether they’re women, men, young, old, it’s the way I’ve always been. It’s the way I try to show that I care about them and I’m listening.”
Then, he said: “I will be more mindful and respectful of people’s personal space. And that’s a good thing.”
Four women have accused Biden of inappropriate touching in the past week. On Tuesday, 22-year-old Caitlyn Caruso came forward to publicly say Biden had put his hand on her thigh after they met at a campus event at the University of Nevada. Meanwhile, D.J. Hill told the New York Times that Biden put his hand on her shoulder and slid it down her back when they were taking a photograph together with her husband at a 2012 event. Both women said the touching made them uncomfortable but didn’t classify it as sexual assault or harassment. Amy Lappos, a former congressional aide, said Biden rubbed noses with her at a fundraising event in 2009. And Friday, former Nevada state legislator Lucy Flores said Biden put his hands on her shoulders and kissed the back of her head before she went onstage at a 2014 rally.
Some of Biden’s allies have said that the former senator is simply attempting to convey kindness or warmth, and doesn’t mean to act inappropriately. Biden released a statement after Flores came forward to say he didn’t intend to make her uncomfortable.
“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 said.
Cover: Former Vice President Joe Biden speaks at the Biden Courage Awards Tuesday, March 26, 2019, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)