Joe Biden on Friday joked about the recent allegations from at least seven women who claim he touched them inappropriately.
While giving a speech at the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers conference, Biden patted President Lonnie Stephenson on the shoulder as he took the stage.
“I just want you to know, I had permission to hug Lonnie,” Biden said. “I don’t know man,” he added, laughing, as the crowd cheered.
At start of his address to the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Joe Biden jokes, “I just want you to know, I had permission to hug Lonnie.” https://t.co/Hvgxjgk9fw pic.twitter.com/19rJgEA1L5
— ABC News (@ABC) April 5, 2019
The former vice president, who is mulling a run for the White House in 2020, also joked about children, according to a reporter from Talking Points Memo.
.@JoeBiden now inviting kids up onstage from the crowd. "All those kids, you want to come up on the stage, you can come up, it’s okay.” Gives them handshakes before putting an arm around the nearest boy. “He gave me permission to touch him."
— Cameron Joseph (@cam_joseph) April 5, 2019
Sam Stein, a Daily Beast reporter, questioned the tactic. “I’m not sure Biden joking about accusations that he invades women’s personal space is the right way to go—especially after putting out a video saying he’d learned from it. But we’ll find out!” he wrote on Twitter.
I’m not sure Biden joking about accusations that he invades women’s personal space is the right way to go—especially after putting out a video saying he’d learned from it. But we’ll find out!
— Sam Stein (@samstein) April 5, 2019
Others on social media agreed.
The jokes came two days after Biden took to Twitter with a two-minute video in which he explained — but did not apologize for — his touchy-feely ways in the past.
“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. “I hear what they’re saying. I understand it. I’ll be much more mindful. That’s my responsibility, and I’ll meet it.”
Three more women emerged on Wednesday to say that his unwanted touches made them feel uncomfortable, and one woman said a video the handsy vice president posted on Twitter on Wednesday does not change how she feels.
The three women, Ally Coll, Vail Kohnert-Yount and Sofie Karasek, told The Washington Post very similar stories about how Biden allegedly touched them inappropriately. Kohnert-Yount worked as an intern in the White House in 2013 and said when she met Biden for the first time, he “put his hand on the back of my head and pressed his forehead to my forehead while he talked to me. I was so shocked that it was hard to focus on what he was saying. I remember he told me I was a ‘pretty girl.'”
But Kohnert-Yount, like several of the other women who have come forward, said she “did not consider my experience to have been sexual assault or harassment.” Yet she added that “it was the kind of inappropriate behavior that makes many women feel uncomfortable and unequal in the workplace.”
Last week, Lucy Flores, a former Nevada assemblywoman who was running for lieutenant governor in 2014, accused Biden of inappropriately touching her during a campaign rally, saying she felt uncomfortable and demeaned by his touching. On Monday, Amy Lappos told The Hartford Courant that “Biden touched her inappropriately and rubbed noses with her during a 2009 political fundraiser in Greenwich when he was vice president.”
Two other women, D.J. Hill and Caitlyn Caruso, told The New York Times that Biden had touched them, too, making them uncomfortable. The three that emerged on Wednesday brings the total to seven.