Joe Biden’s first accuser Lucy Flores is none too happy that the former vice president is cracking jokes about inappropriate touching in order to deflect from the situation.
“It’s clear @JoeBiden hasn’t reflected at all on how his inappropriate and unsolicited touching made women feel uncomfortable,” Flores said on Twitter Friday. “To make light of something as serious as consent degrades the conversation women everywhere are courageously trying to have.”
On Friday, after seven women accused him of invading their personal space, often by rubbing their shoulders while getting his face up in their hair, Joe Biden spoke at an event hosted by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) where he mocked himself as a touchy-feely guy after a momentary embrace with IBEW President Lonnie Stephenson.
Biden said, “I just want you to know I had permission to hug Lonnie … I had permission …”
The move drew laughter and applause from the audience as Biden went on to say, “I don’t know, man …”
Later, when several children joined Biden on stage, the former vice president put his arm around one of the boys and said cheerfully, “By the way, he gave me permission to touch him.”
On the same day, The Hill reported that Biden expressed sorrow simply for not understanding the value of personal space, not for anything he had ever done.
“I’m sorry I didn’t understand more,” said Biden. “I’m not sorry for any of my intentions. I’m not sorry for anything that I have ever done. I have never been disrespectful intentionally to a man or a woman. So that’s not the reputation I’ve had since I was in high school, for god’s sakes … The fact of the matter is I made it clear that if I made anyone feel (uncomfortable), I feel badly about that. It was never my intention. Ever.”
Biden and his defenders have also spoken of about his past advocacy on issues like sexual assault to curtail his detractors. In an op-ed for The Washington Post, Biden accuser Sofie Karasek said his past advocacy makes his actions even more reprehensible. “It’s precisely because he has been active on this for so long that he should have realized much earlier that he could be making women uncomfortable and that, given his powerful position, women could be holding back from expressing those feelings,” she wrote.
Amidst all this, Biden’s former boss, President Barack Obama, has elected to remain silent.
“President Obama thinks the world of him and thinks he’d be an excellent president,” a source close to Obama told The Hill. “He’s spent an infinite amount of time talking about his character, and they remain in touch and good friends.”
The source also confirmed that Biden will not get an endorsement from Obama, saying the former vice president is on his own.
“President Obama is not going to be weighing in on the primary and the day-to-day stories around it,” the source continued. “And Joe Biden would be the first to tell you that he’ll have to earn the nomination on his own.”