Former Vice President Joe Biden speaks during a Democratic event in Dover, Del., on March 16, 2019.
Former Vice President Joe Biden speaks during a Democratic event in Dover, Del., on March 16, 2019. [Saul Loeb | AFP | Getty Images]

Biden Promises To ‘Be More Mindful’ About Respecting Personal Space

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Updated 5:08 p.m. ET

Former Vice President Joe Biden released a video Wednesday to address the instances of unwanted physical encounters with women that have been brought forward in recent days, and which threaten to derail a possible presidential bid in 2020.

In the online video, which runs some two minutes, Biden is seated on a couch and speaks directly to the camera. “I shake hands, I hug people, I grab men and women by the shoulders,” he says. “It’s a way I’ve tried to show I care about them and I’m listening,” he also said.

“It’s just who I am,” Biden also explained.

“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. I hear what they’re saying and I understand it,” the former vice president also says in the video.

The video is the first time Biden has spoken about his behavior since Lucy Flores, a former Nevada state assemblywoman, said Biden touched her and kissed her head during a political rally in 2014.

In a tweet posted with the video, Biden wrote “Social norms are changing. I understand that, and I’ve heard what these women are saying. Politics to me has always been about making connections, but I will be more mindful about respecting personal space in the future. That’s my responsibility and I will meet it.”

Sunday, after Flores’ allegation, Biden issued a statement that fell short of an apology. “I may not recall these moments the same way, and I may be surprised at what I hear,” Biden said. “But we have arrived at an important time when women feel they can and should relate their experiences, and men should pay attention. And I will.”

Since then at least three other women have come forward saying they were made uncomfortable by Biden’s physical contact with them.

In the video, Biden also dropped a hint that he may soon announce a presidential bid, saying “Folks, in the coming month, I expect to be talking to you about a whole lot of issues, and I’ll always be direct with you.”

Other Democrats have reacted cautiously to the allegations against Biden, whose proclivity for personal contact has been well documented over the years.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif, said the allegations against Biden were not disqualifying, but suggested Biden join what she called “the straight-arm club,” and respect people’s space by keeping them an arm’s length away.

“He has to understand in the world that we’re in now that people’s space is important to them,” Pelosi said, “and what’s important is how they receive it and not necessarily how you intended it.”

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