For five days, Joseph R. Biden Jr. remained in the background as four women came forward saying they had been uncomfortable with the ways he had touched them.
On Wednesday, Mr. Biden decided he needed to address the matter — and his future as a possible presidential candidate — personally. He chose to do so in a video.
"Folks, in the coming month I expect to be talking about a whole lot of issues, and I'll always be direct with you. But today I want to talk about gestures of support and encouragement that I've made to women and some men that have made them uncomfortable," Biden said. "And I'll always try to be, in my career, I've always tried to make a human connection. That's my responsibility, I think. I shake hands, I hug people. I grab men and women by the shoulders and say "you can do this." And whether they're women, men, young, old, it's the way I've always been. It's the way I've tried to show I care about them and I'm listening," the 75-year-old Biden said.
"It's just who I am. And I've never thought of politics as cold and antiseptic. I've always thought it about connecting with people," he continued.
"I'll always believe governing quite frankly -- life for that matter -- is about connecting, about connecting with people. That won't change. But I will be more mindful and respectful of people's personal space, and that's a good thing. That's a good thing. I worked my whole life to empower women. I've worked my whole life to prevent abuse -- I've written -- and so 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. I will."
“Social norms are changing. I understand that, and I’ve heard what these women are saying," Biden tweeted. "Politics to me has always been about making connections, but I will be more mindful about respecting personal space in the future. That’s my responsibility and I will meet it."
And while he said he'll always think of "connecting with people" as a foundation to both governing and life, he "will be more mindful and respectful of people's personal space."
Allegations pile up:
The latest allegations against Biden surfaced Tuesday from two women who spoke to The New York Times. One of the claims dated from 2012, while the other encounter was said to have taken place a few years later.
In the second incident, former college student Caitlyn Caruso told the paper that Biden "rested his hand on 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 at Las Vegas." Caruso, now 22, told the paper that she was 19 at the time and had just recounted her own story of sexual assault.