In a short video released on Wednesday, former vice president and likely 2020 presidential candidate Joe Biden responded to a series of women who have come forward to complain about his behavior, saying he would be more “respectful” in future but pointedly not apologizing for his past conduct.
“In the coming months I expect to be talking to you about a whole lot of issues,” Biden began, hinting at his not-yet-announced presidential run, “and I’ll always be direct with you.”
Claiming that he’s “always tried to make a human connection,” Biden acknowledged what he described as “gestures of support and encouragement that I’ve made to women and some men that made them uncomfortable.”
I shake hands, I hug people, I grab men and women by the shoulders and say ‘you can do this’...it’s the way I’ve tried to show I care about them and I’m listening.
“It’s just who I am,” he added. “I’ve never thought of politics as cold and antiseptic.”
Biden’s comments came after multiple women claimed that he interacted with them in ways that left them, as one woman stated, “very uncomfortable.”
Wednesday’s video is the second time Biden has addressed the issue since the women started coming forward. Earlier this week, he released a short statement in which he vowed to “listen respectfully” to the allegations against him, although he stopped short of actually apologizing. Members of his team have since insinuated, with no evidence, that the allegations may have been coordinated by Bernie Sanders’ campaign.
“Social norms have begun to change, they’ve shifted, and the boundaries of protecting personal space have been reset and I get it,” Biden said in his video. “I get it. 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.”
Biden also used the video to tease what might end up being a campaign refrain, insisting he’s used his “whole life to empower women,” and to “prevent abuse.”