Biden Promises to Be ‘More Mindful about Respecting Personal Space’

Former Vice President Joe Biden (Yuri Gripas/Reuters)

Former vice president Joe Biden made a promise Wednesday to respect people’s personal space in the future, amid recent allegations that he has acted inappropriately in his interactions with women over the years.

In a two-minute video message posted to Twitter, Biden, a top prospective contender for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, promised to “be more mindful about respecting personal space in the future.”

“Social norms are changing,” Biden acknowledged in a tweet with the video. “I understand that, and I’ve heard what these women are saying.”

In his message, the 76-year-old Biden acknowledged that some of his “gestures of support and encouragement” to “women, and some men” have made them “uncomfortable.”

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“In my career, I’ve always tried to make a human connection,” he said. “I grab men and women by the shoulders and say ‘You can do this.’ . . . It’s the way I’ve always been. It’s the way I’ve tried to show them I care about them.”

“The boundaries about protecting personal space have been reset, and I get it,” he continued. “The idea that I can’t adjust to the fact that personal space is important, more important than it’s ever been, is just not thinkable. I will.”

Two women came forward last week with accusations that the former vice president had made them uncomfortable at public events in the past.

Former Nevada state assemblywoman Lucy Flores claimed Friday that Biden held her shoulders and kissed the back of her head at a 2014 campaign rally. On Monday, Amy Lappos, a former aide to Democratic representative Jim Himes, went public with a complaint that Biden had rubbed noses with her at a 2009 fundraiser in Greenwich, Conn.

On Sunday, Biden released a statement saying that he never meant the gestures in a disrespectful way and touting “the work I’ve done in my career to end violence against women and ensure women are treated with the equality they deserve.”

“I may not recall these moments the same way, and I may be surprised at what I hear. 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,” he said.

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