Georgia Democrat Stacey Abrams on Thursday stood by Joe Biden amid mounting allegations that he inappropriately touched women while serving as vice president, saying Americans should expect their leaders to be accountable but not perfect.
Abrams, a former Georgia state lawmaker who narrowly lost her bid for governor in November, suggested during an interview with MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” that she believes that Biden’s statement Wednesday acknowledging he “made a mistake” was sufficient.
“I am friends with Lucy Flores and I appreciate her bringing her story forward,” Abrams said, referring to the former Nevada assembly member who alleges Biden smelled her hair and kissed the back of her head without consent in 2014. “I also have deep respect for Vice President Joe Biden.”
She continued: “We cannot have perfection as a litmus test. The responsibility of leaders is to not be perfect but to be accountable, to say I’ve made a mistake, I understand it and here’s what I’m going to do to reform as I move forward. And I think we see Joe Biden doing that.”
(Watch Abrams discuss her potential presidential run on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” above. Her comments about Biden begin at 2:20.)
Abrams noted that Biden, who is expected to announce a 2020 presidential run, acknowledged the “discomfort” he has caused some women and “affirmed that he will do something different” in the future.
“We’re going to find out things about everybody running for office ― whether it’s the presidency or the school board ― and we have to as a people be ready to forgive,” Abrams said. “But forgiveness does not mean you accept it, unless what you see is accountability and an attempt at reformation.″
Biden has released two statements promising to reflect and learn from the allegations. But he has not apologized to at least four women who have publicly accused him of making them feel uncomfortable with his touching.
“Social norms have begun to change, they’re shifted, and the boundaries of protecting personal space have been reset, and I get it,” Biden said in a video posted to Twitter on Wednesday. “I hear what they’re saying, I understand it. And I’ll be much more mindful ― that’s my responsibility.”
Speculation has swirled in recent weeks that Biden was considering asking Abrams to be his 2020 running mate. Abrams has repeatedly denied such a scenario, noting that she is considering running for president herself.
“I do not believe you run for second place and I do not intend to enter a presidential race as a primary candidate for vice president,” Abrams told MSNBC on Thursday.
“If I enter the race for president I will enter the race for president,” she added. “But once we have a nominee ... should I not be someone who’s running, I am open to conversations with anyone.”