Joe Biden Vows to Respect Personal Space Following Accusations of Inappropriate Behavior
The former vice president explained to his Twitter followers on Wednesday that his "gestures of support and encouragement" were never meant to make anyone feel uncomfortable
Former Vice President Joe Biden is pledging to change his ways after two women recently came forward accusing him of inappropriate behavior.
In the days following accusations from Connecticut native Amy Lappos and Nevada politician Lucy Flores, both of whom claimed the potential 2020 Democratic presidential candidate touched them without consent and made them feel uncomfortable, Biden spoke out on Twitter and vowed to be more mindful of people’s personal space.
Flores claimed last Friday that Biden touched her shoulders and kissed the back of her head without consent in 2014, while Lappos came forward Monday and said Biden grabbed her head and rubbed his nose on hers during a political fundraiser 10 years ago.
In the two-minute video posted on Wednesday, the democrat, 76, explained that his intentions were never to make anyone feel uncomfortable and said he would adjust to the changing social norms of personal space.
“Today, I want to talk about gestures of support and encouragement I’ve made to women and some men that have made them uncomfortable,” Biden began, as he sat on a sofa wearing a navy suit.
“In my career, I’ve always tried to make a human connection — that’s my responsibility, I think,” he continued, explaining that he often will “shake hands, hug people, or 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 try to show I care about them and I’m listening,” Biden explained of his gestures and mannerisms.
Continuing, the former vice president — who helped launch the “It’s On Us” social movement, which raises awareness against sexual assault and encourages bystander invention — noted that hundreds of people have come to him and “reached out for solace” to get them through personal tragedies and situations.
“I’ve always thought of politics as connecting with people,” he explained. “Now it’s all about taking selfies together.”
“Social norms have begun to change, they’ve shifted, and the boundaries of protecting personal space have been reset and I get it. I get it,” Biden continued. “I hear what they’re saying. I understand it and I’ll be much more mindful. That’s my responsibility and I’ll meet it.”
Though Biden said he’ll always believe “life is about connecting with people,” he finished by vowing to be “more mindful and respectful of people’s personal space.”
“I worked my whole life to empower women,” he pointed out. “So the idea that I can’t adjust to the fact that personal space is important, more important than it’s ever been, is just not thinkable. I will.”
This is the second time that Biden has spoken out amid the accusations.
“In my many years on the campaign trail and in public life, I have offered countless handshakes, hugs, expressions of affection, support and comfort,” Biden said on Sunday. “And not once — never — did I believe I acted inappropriately. If it is suggested I did so, I will listen respectfully. But it was never my intention. I may not recall these moments the same way, and I may be surprised at what I hear.”
The former Delaware senator continued by saying he will “remain the strongest advocate” he can be for women’s rights.
“But we have arrived at an important time when women feel they can and should relate their experiences, and men should pay attention,” he said. “And I will. I will also remain the strongest advocate I can be for the rights of women. I will fight to build on the work I’ve done in my career to end violence against women and ensure women are treated with the equality they deserve.”
“I will continue to surround myself with trusted women advisers who challenge me to see different perspectives than my own. And I will continue to speak out on these vitally-important issues where there is much more progress to be made and crucial fights that must be waged and won.”
The statement came after a spokesperson for the politician told the Washington Post and other outlets on March 29 that while the allegations should be taken seriously, Biden did not remember the incident.
“Neither then, nor in the years since, did he or the staff with him at the time have an inkling that Ms. Flores had been at any time uncomfortable, nor do they recall what she describes,” the spokesperson said.
“But Vice President Biden believes that Ms. Flores has every right to share her own recollection and reflections, and that it is a change for better in our society that she has the opportunity to do so. He respects Ms. Flores as a strong and independent voice in our politics and wishes her only the best,” they added.
Biden never addressed the second accusations from Lappos and a representative for the politician did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.
“I’ll be as straight with you as I can: I think I’m the most qualified person in the country to be president,” he said during a December appearance at the University of Montana. “The issues that we face as a country today are the issues that have been in my wheelhouse, that I’ve worked on my whole life.”