“A guy who ended up becoming our national leader said, ‘I can grab a woman anywhere and she likes it.’ ... They asked me if I’d like to debate this gentleman, and I said no,” Biden told the crowd of college students. “I said, ‘If we were in high school, I’d take him behind the gym and beat the hell out of him.’”
It’s an odd sentiment to respond to violence against women with more violence, but Biden’s comments were met with applause and laughter. The rally was held in partnership with his anti-sexual violence organization, It’s On Us. Biden, who launched It’s On Us with President Barack Obama in 2014, has long advocated for women’s rights, including drafting the Violence Against Women Act of 1994.
Later in his speech, Biden bizarrely suggested that men who treat women poorly or boast about committing sexual assault are likely to be physically unattractive.
“I’ve been in a lot of locker rooms my whole life,” he continued. “I’m a pretty damn good athlete. Any guy that talked that way was usually the fattest, ugliest SOB in the room.”
In reality, of course, men who treat women poorly come in all shapes and sizes.
Biden has been widely criticized for how he handled professor Anita Hill’s accusations of sexual harassment against Clarence Thomas during the latter’s 1991 Supreme Court confirmation hearings. Many people believe that Biden, then chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, didn’t do enough to ensure those allegations were given full consideration. More recently, he has been criticized for his borderline creepy behavior toward some women.
Trump, who once bragged about grabbing women “by the pussy,” has been accused of sexual misconduct, ranging from harassment to assault and rape, by 21 women. The president has denied all those allegations as “fake news.”
In February, Trump continued to defend former White House staff secretary Rob Porter even after Porter resigned following reports that he had physically abused both of his ex-wives. The president later suggested that both women were lying about their accusations of domestic violence.
For his part, Biden has visited several college campuses over the last few years to speak about It’s On Us and ending sexual violence. On Tuesday, reiterating a message he’s delivered before, he urged students to intervene when they witness inappropriate behavior.
“So many of you guys have to understand the depth of your obligation,” he said.
Then he continued, “It’s not just on the men. It’s on you women, as well, on campus. All the studies show that 95 percent of young women who are abused ― the first person they tell is their roommate, their friend, someone on campus. You’ve got to inform yourself as to what facilities are available, what help is available, not just empathize, hug and say, ‘I’m so sorry.’ You have an obligation to be informed.”
Biden also reminded his audience that sexual violence “is about power and the abuse of power more than it is about sex.”
Watch Biden’s full speech below.
This article has been updated to include more about Biden’s track record with women’s issues.