Former Vice President Joe Biden elaborated on accusations that he inappropriately touched and kissed women without their permission. But he stopped short of apologizing directly to them.
“I’ve always tried to make a human connection ― that’s my responsibility, I think,” Biden said in a video uploaded to Twitter on Wednesday. “I shake hands, I hug people, I grab men and women by the shoulders and say, ‘You can do this.’”
Last week, former Nevada Assemblywoman Lucy Flores said she felt “powerless” when she said Biden put his hands on her shoulders, smelled her hair and kissed her head.
“He made me feel uneasy, gross, and confused,” she wrote in an op-ed in New York Magazine’s The Cut. “The vice-president of the United States of America had just touched me in an intimate way reserved for close friends, family, or romantic partners — and I felt powerless to do anything about it.”
Other women have come forward with similar accusations since Flores published her account.
Here’s what Biden said in his response:
Folks, in the coming month I expect to be talking to you about a whole lot of issues, and I’ll always be direct with you. But today I want to talk about gestures of support and encouragement that I’ve made to women and some men that have made them uncomfortable. And I’ve always tried, in my career, 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.” Whether they’re women, men, young, old, it’s the way I’ve always been, it’s the way I’ve tried to show I care about them and listen. And over the years, just knowing what I’ve been through, the things that I’ve faced, I’ve found that scores, if not hundreds of people have come up to me and reached out for solace and comfort. Something, anything that may help them get through the tragedy they’re going through, so it’s just who I am. I’ve never thought of politics as cold and antiseptic. I’ve always thought about connecting with people. As I said, shaking hands, hands on the shoulder, a hug, encouragement. Now it’s all about taking selfies together, you know. Social norms have begun to change, they’re shifted, and the boundaries of protecting 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 ― that’s my responsibility. That’s my responsibility, and I’ll meet it.
He added that while he would be “more mindful and respectful of people’s personal space,” he will continue to “connect” with people.
In a response from Flores later Wednesday, she acknowledged that Biden “should be aware of how important it is to take personal responsibility for inappropriate behavior” but that he “hasn’t apologized to the women he made uncomfortable.”
This story has been updated with comment from Flores.