Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden on Friday said that he was not sorry for his habit of stroking and kissing women in professional settings.
“I’m sorry I didn’t understand more. I’m not sorry for any of my intentions. I’m not sorry for anything I’ve ever done,” he told reporters in Washington.
Mr. Biden is poised to enter the 2020 Democratic presidential race as the front-runner, but recent complaints by several women about his handsy behavior over the years has cast doubt over his expected run.
With nearly 50 years in public life, Mr. Biden said that his record speaks for itself.
“I’ve never been disrespectful intentionally to a man or a woman,” he said. “You know, it’s not the reputation I’ve had since I was in high school, for God’s sake.”
The comments followed Mr. Biden’s first public appearance since the women began coming forward with stories about his touching, hugging and kissing that, while not characterized as sexual assault, made them uncomfortable.
Mr. Biden gave a speech to an International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers convention, and he joked about the controversy after giving a hug to IBEW President Lonnie Stephenson.
“I just want you to know I had permission to hug Lonnie,” Mr. Biden said with a grin, sparking laughter and applause from the crowd.
Two days earlier, he posted an online video in which he promised to stop invading people’s personal space. He said he would change with the times.
“Social norms have begun to change, they’ve shifted, and the boundaries of protecting personal space have been reset, and I get it, I get it,” he said.
The promise did not satisfy critics who demand an apology. His comments Friday will not help him on that front.
Though polls show him leading a crowded Democratic primary field, Mr. Biden, 76, faces headwinds for being part of the old guard and out of step with the party’s progressive and socialist movement.
Mr. Biden said he has always been progressive and did not buy into the news media narrative about the leftward drift of the Democratic Party.
“The idea that all the sudden the Democratic Party woke up and, you know, everybody asked what kind of Democrat [are you]? I’m an Obama-Biden Democrat, man. I’m proud of it,” he said.
He is expected to enter the race this month.
Asked why he was waiting to announce his presidential run, Mr. Biden said that, if he was running, it was always his plan to be “the last person to announce.”
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