Former Vice President Biden Responds To Allegations Of Uncomfortable Physical Interactions

Apr 3, 2019
Originally published on April 3, 2019 7:16 pm
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ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Joe Biden is speaking out. The former vice president and potential 2020 Democratic candidate is responding to allegations from women who say he made close physical contact that was unwanted and made them feel uncomfortable or embarrassed. Biden released a video on Twitter today.

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JOE BIDEN: 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. I understand it. And I'll be much more mindful. That's my responsibility - my responsibility, and I'll meet it.

SHAPIRO: Joining us now is NPR's lead political editor Domenico Montanaro. Hi, Domenico.

DOMENICO MONTANARO, BYLINE: Hey there, Ari.

SHAPIRO: We all watched that video this afternoon. What did you make of it?

MONTANARO: Well, you know, he acknowledged that he did make women feel uncomfortable at various times. He said that he's always tried, though, to make a human connection with people, and that's why he has been so physical with folks, even though a lot of this is stuff that we've seen in public previously.

And I have to say that the fact that he's trying to save his candidacy before he even gets in...

SHAPIRO: Right.

MONTANARO: ...Is not a great sign for him.

SHAPIRO: And the first woman to come forward with an allegation responded this afternoon. What did she say?

MONTANARO: She did. That was Lucy Flores. She said that in 2014, just for some background here, at an event that's - when she was running for lieutenant governor of Nevada, Biden put his hands on her shoulders, smelled her hair, kissed the top of her head and got too close and made her feel uncomfortable.

This afternoon, she responded to Biden's video and said that she's glad that the vice president acknowledges that he made women feel uncomfortable but that given his long work on behalf of women, he should, quote, "be aware of how important it is to take personal responsibility for inappropriate behavior. And yet, he hasn't apologized to the women he made feel uncomfortable."

And she's not the only one. There are three other women who have come forward to say that they had interactions with the vice president that made them feel uncomfortable at various events.

SHAPIRO: So as you say, he appears to be trying to save a candidacy that he has not yet declared.

MONTANARO: Right.

SHAPIRO: What does this mean for that?

MONTANARO: Well, look; a month ago, most people thought that he would run. Now it's not that clear. He's really struggling to get past this. You see it even in his response. He hasn't been able to kind of put out a response, even before he even gets in here, if he were to do so, that has been satisfying to the people who, ostensibly, he would need to win over.

And I think it really highlights for a lot of people that this is a huge generational divide within the Democratic Party. Is 2019 really here for this kind of behavior from Joe Biden? Even though he's saying that he has learned from it, he's not going to do that in the future, is this a party that wants, you know, Biden to be the standard-bearer...

SHAPIRO: Well...

MONTANARO: ...When it's been grappling with everything President Trump has done?

SHAPIRO: And in this moment, we are looking at the biggest, most diverse field of candidates ever in history. How does this fit into that context?

MONTANARO: Right. And I think that's the biggest thing because a lot of these older Democrats who like Joe Biden think that he could win in places like the Midwest and give them a good chance to beat President Trump because of his blue-collar roots and his natural appeal. But that's not something that's necessarily the thing that younger activists - Democrats really want to hear.

SHAPIRO: That's NPR lead political editor Domenico Montanaro. Thanks, Domenico.

MONTANARO: You're so welcome.

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