Over the last two weeks, former Vice President Joe Biden has faced eight allegations of women who were disturbed or bothered by his touching them—something Biden himself recently joked about, the Washington Examiner reports.
“It wasn’t my intent to make light of anyone’s discomfort,” Biden said after his speech at the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Construction and Maintenance Conference at the Washington Hilton in D.C. concerning jokes he made during it. “I realize my responsibility is to not invade the space of anyone who is uncomfortable in that regard. And I hope it wasn’t taken that way.”
“But there was a — I literally think it is incumbent upon me and I think everybody else to make sure that if you embrace someone, if you touch someone, it’s with their consent regardless of your intention. If you’re trying to bring solace, if you’re trying to welcome them, and it’s my responsibility to do that,” Biden continued via the Washington Examiner. “What made me say it, I wasn’t joking, the president of the union put his arms around me. That’s how it’s always been, going on a long time, that’s how people react.”
Biden was then reportedly asked if more women would be coming forward with allegations, especially in light of a potential presidential run.
“I wouldn’t be surprised,” the former vice president answered, “but I’ve had hundreds and hundreds of people contact me, who I don’t know, and say the exact opposite.”
Here’s more on the jokes Biden shared during the speech, from the Washington Examiner:
During Friday’s speech, the former vice president twice joked about having permission to hug first Lonnie Stephenson, president of IBEW, and a young boy who was part of a group of children he invited onstage.
But the ongoing controversy does not seem to have hampered the prospect of Biden entering the 2020 White House race, defending his liberal record as “an Obama-Biden Democrat” while arguing that most members of the Democratic Party have not moved further to the political left.
“I’m told by the lawyers that I’ve got to be careful about what I say so that I don’t start a clock ticking and change my status. But I am very close to making a decision to stand before you all relatively soon,” he said. “What’s the holdup? Putting everything together, man. Putting everything together. Even if I knew for certain that I was going to run for president back at Thanksgiving, my intentions at the beginning, if I was going to run, it would be the last person to announce.”