Former vice president Joe Biden on Friday addressed the recent accusations of women who say he invaded their personal space, first joking about the allegations onstage during an address to the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers before apologizing and admitting that he will “change” how he campaigns in light of the claims.
“I just want you to know, I had permission to hug Lonnie,” Biden said after embracing the IBEW president on stage. He went on to repeat the joke moments later while placing his arm around a boy who was standing beside him onstage. “He gave me permission to touch him,” Biden said.
Following his speech, Biden spoke to reporters and apologized for failing to comprehend how his actions might affect women while stipulating that it was never his intention to make anyone uncomfortable.
“I am sorry I didn’t understand more,” Biden said when asked about the recent allegations. “I am not sorry for any of my intentions. I am not sorry for anything that I have ever done — I’ve never been disrespectful, intentionally, to a man or a woman. That’s not the reputation I’ve had since I was in high school, for God’s sake.”
While he hasn’t officially announced his entry into the crowded 2020 Democratic primary field, Biden all but admitted he will be entering the race soon and said the allegations will “change” the way he campaigns.
“I’m going to have to change how I campaign,” he told reporters. “I’m told by the lawyers I’ve gotta be careful what I say so I don’t start the clock ticking and change my status,” he later added, referencing the financial disclosures and other requirements that must be met once a candidate officially announces.
The remarks come one week after Lucy Flores, a former Nevada state assemblywoman, accused Biden of approaching her from behind, smelling her hair, and kissing her on the neck without her consent during a 2014 campaign event. Amy Lappos, a former congressional aide, then told the Hartford Courant that Biden pulled her face toward his and rubbed his nose against hers during a fundraiser in 2009.