Former US Vice President Joe Biden, is facing criticism from several women who have accused him of touching and hugging them inappropriately and making them feel uncomfortable.
On Wednesday night, Biden released a video responding to the complaints, saying he’d be ‘more mindful’ of his behaviour toward women he met in the future.
“Social norms are changing,” he said, in his first response to the controversy. “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,” he added. “That’s my responsibility, and I will meet it.”
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
He also claimed to have a “tactile” approach to politics and had never viewed his position as clinical or “antiseptic”.
A candidate for the next presidential campaign however, this controversy threatens to unravel Biden before he even makes a play for it.
The heat ramped up on Friday when when Lucy Flores, a former Nevada assembly woman, wrote an op-ed for ‘The Cut’ relaying an uncomfortable encounter with Biden where he’d touched, kissed and inhaled her hair offstage at a 2014 campaign rally:
“I found my way to the holding room for the speakers, where everyone was chatting, taking photos, and getting ready to speak to the hundreds of voters in the audience,” she wrote.
“Just before the speeches, we were ushered to the side of the stage where we were lined up by order of introduction. As I was taking deep breaths and preparing myself to make my case to the crowd, I felt two hands on my shoulders. I froze. “Why is the vice-president of the United States touching me?”’
“I felt him get closer to me from behind. He leaned further in and inhaled my hair. I was mortified. I thought to myself, “I didn’t wash my hair today and the vice-president of the United States is smelling it. And also, what in the actual fuck? Why is the vice-president of the United States smelling my hair?”
“He proceeded to plant a big slow kiss on the back of my head. My brain couldn’t process what was happening. I was embarrassed. I was shocked. I was confused. There is a Spanish saying, “tragame tierra,” it means, “earth, swallow me whole.” I couldn’t move and I couldn’t say anything. I wanted nothing more than to get Biden away from me. My name was called and I was never happier to get on stage in front of an audience.”
While Flores doesn’t allege Biden did anything illegal, she makes note of a common problem in society where young female professionals are made to feel uncomfortable by older male colleagues. A power struggle perpetually at play.
If nothing else, these accusations highlight that 76-year old Biden belongs to a different era of politics; an era that no longer makes sense for The Democrats or the American electorate.
Since Flores’ account, at least three other women have come forward to report similar experiences. Biden is yet to comment anything further.