Whoopi Goldberg defended former Vice President Joe Biden following an allegation that he inappropriately touched and kissed a former Nevada assemblywoman, saying she doesn’t want the likely 2020 Democratic presidential candidate to change his behavior.
Goldberg, a co-host on ‘The View,’ was irked when colleague Sunny Hostin predicted during Monday’s program that Biden would curb his tactile tendencies with women after Lucy Flores said she felt uncomfortable when Biden placed his hands on her shoulders, smelled her hair and kissing the back of her head at a 2014 campaign event. Flores was the Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor in Nevada and Biden was appearing on her behalf.
“I don’t know that we will see any more smelling of hair and kisses on the forehead,” Hostin said of the controversy, eliciting a strong rebuke from Goldberg.
“That pisses me off,” she said. “I don’t want Joe to stop doing that.”
Meghan McCain, another “View” co-host and daughter of the late Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), agreed, suggesting Biden’s behavior was simply part of his brand.
“There’s a certain type of retail politician that loves people,” she said. “I would put Bill Clinton in that category, I would put my father in that category, I would certainly put Joe Biden in that category. When he came on this show, he was the only politician other than my father to go into the crowd and shake everyone’s hand.”
Goldberg also noted that Biden is known to be “a hands-on kind of guy,” which is evident from photos of his interpersonal interactions spanning years, some of which show him touching shoulders and at least one in which he is pictured holding a reporter’s waist.
“In the old days, we would call Joe ― some folks of a certain age would say he’s a little overly familiar,” Goldberg said.
Goldberg said that she took Flores’ account seriously. But she also argued that Flores, who lost the lieutenant governor’s race, should have directly told Biden to stop.
“My point is, I want women to get to the place where they can say, ‘Hey, you just made me uncomfortable.’ This idea that you have to tippy-toe away from this or you have to carry [it] ― you do not have to carry it. If someone makes you uncomfortable, tell them.”
On Sunday, moments before Flores appeared on CNN to discuss the allegation that she first detailed in a New York magazine article published Friday, Biden released a statement saying he would “listen respectfully” to women alleging he had displayed inappropriate affection toward them but that it had never been his intention to do so.
He also said that “not once ― never ― did I believe I acted inappropriately.
During her CNN interview, Flores suggested that Biden’s comments indicate he lacks awareness of how women ought to be treated. She also said that her experience wasn’t the first time he crossed boundaries.
Biden’s defense of himself was bolstered on Sunday by Stephanie Carter, whose husband served as defense secretary during President Barack Obama’s second term in office. Biden, as vice president, attended the swearing-in ceremony for Ash Carter, and a widely circulated photo showed him resting his hands on her shoulders from behind and whispering into her ear.
Questions were raised at the time about Biden’s action. But in an essay in Medium, Stephanie Carter disputed that Biden had acted inappropriately. “The Joe Biden in my picture is a close friend helping someone get through a big day, for which I will always be grateful,” she wrote.