Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 April 2019

Joe Biden responds to accusations of inappropriate behaviour towards women

Former vice president said he had spent his entire career trying to advance women's rights and protection from abuse

Since the beginning of the month, several women have come forward accusing former US Vice President Joe Biden of unwanted touching. The senior Democrat said he would be much more mindful of personal space in a video on Wednesday. REUTERS
Since the beginning of the month, several women have come forward accusing former US Vice President Joe Biden of unwanted touching. The senior Democrat said he would be much more mindful of personal space in a video on Wednesday. REUTERS

Former US vice president Joe Biden has responded to allegations by women that he behaved inappropriately and invaded their personal space.

“In my career, I've always tried to make a human connection. That's my responsibility I think," Mr Biden said in a two-minute video posted on his Twitter account on Wednesday.

"I shake hands. I hug people. I 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 – the way I've tried to show I care about them and I'm listening."

He said he had never thought of politics as something “cold and antiseptic”, but about “connecting with people”.

Mr Biden said he noted that social norms had shifted and the boundaries about protecting personal space had been reset, and he would be “much more mindful” of it.

The senior Democrat said he still believed that governing was about connecting with people but being aware of personal space was "a good thing".

At the end of the video, Mr Biden said he had worked hard to advance women's rights and protection from abuse, such as helping to write the Violence Against Women Act of 1994.

"I've worked my whole life to empower women," he said. "I've worked my whole life to prevent abuse.

"So the idea that I can't adjust to the fact that personal space is more important than it's ever been is just unthinkable. I will. I will."

Since the start of the month, several women have accused Mr Biden of unwanted touching.

Caitlyn Caruso, a former university student and sexual assault survivor, said he touched her thigh, even as she squirmed in her seat to show her discomfort, and hugged her “just a little bit too long” at an event on sexual assault at the University of Nevada, The New York Times reported.

Ms Caruso was 19 at the time.

On April 1, Nevada Democrat Lucy Flores said Mr Biden kissed her on the back of her head, making her feel uncomfortable.

Mr Biden is considering running for the White House in 2020 but has yet to make a formal announcement, but the allegations have proved damaging.

Speaking at an event for the National Republican Congressional Committee on Tuesday, President Donald Trump mocked him over the accusations, after telling a story about wanting a kiss from a US army general.

“I felt like Joe Biden. But I meant it,” Mr Trump said.

Updated: April 4, 2019 01:03 AM

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