Biden team charges ahead with 2020 plans despite allegations: It's ‘strengthened his resolve’
In new video, former Vice President Joe Biden does not apologize for accusations of inappropriate contact with women, but says he understands social norms are changing; senior political correspondent Mike Emanuel reports from Washington.
Even as more accusers come forward with claims of inappropriate touching, Biden World is flashing signals that it's all systems go for 2020.
The former vice president personally sought to tamp down the controversy with a Twitter video late Wednesday vowing to be "more mindful about respecting personal space in the future." Moments later, a Washington Post story relayed the accounts of three more women claiming improper contact, on the heels of four similar allegations. But a source close to the former vice president said the controversy, if anything, “has strengthened his resolve.”
Asked if the developments would slow Biden’s decision-making process, the adviser answered: “Absolutely not.” The source, who asked to remain anonymous to speak more freely, added that a Biden announcement could likely come in late April – after Easter – or soon afterward.
The release of the video on Wednesday came amid allegations from numerous women that Biden had made them feel uncomfortable with what was described as inappropriate touching.
"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."
"I hear what they're saying, I understand it, and I'll be much more mindful, that's my responsibility. My responsibility, and I'll meet it," he said.
With his team preparing for an announcement, Biden alluded to those likely plans in his comments at the top of the video.
"Folks, in the coming month I'm expecting to be talking to you about a whole lot of issues, and I'll always be direct with you," he said as he strongly suggested he would be declaring his candidacy for the White House.
Biden concluded his video by highlighting his decades of fighting on behalf of women and promised he would be more thoughtful with his physical actions going forward.
"I will be more mindful and respectful of people's personal space, and that's a good thing, that's a good thing," Biden said. "I've 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."
Biden’s #MeToo controversy, the first real crisis of his yet-to-be-announced presidential campaign, began on Friday, with allegations from 2014 Nevada Democratic lieutenant governor nominee Lucy Flores that Biden made her feel "uneasy, gross, and confused" at a campaign rally when she said he kissed her on the back of the head. Flores’ allegations – published in a New York Magazine essay – quickly went viral and became a top cable news story throughout the weekend and into this week.
Flores -- who backed Sen. Bernie Sanders' 2016 bid for the Democratic presidential nomination and who attended the campaign kickoff of former Rep. Beto O’Rourke of Texas, both 2020 presidential candidates -- said that “personally I do not believe that [Biden] should run.”
But responding to questions about her affiliations, Flores said that “this is in no way politically motivated.”
Flores took to Twitter on Wednesday to react to Biden’s video, saying she was “glad” that the former vice president "acknowledges that he made women feel uncomfortable with his unsolicited gestures of encouragement."
But she also said “he hasn’t apologized to the women he made uncomfortable."
As the story gathered steam over the weekend, some of the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates Biden would likely face off against said they had no reason not to believe the allegations from Flores. Among them was former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, who called the claims from Flores “very disconcerting.”
On Wednesday, O’Rourke also weighed in.
“Ultimately, that’s a decision for him to make, but I’m glad that people are willing to – and have the courage to step up,” the Democratic presidential candidate said. “They must be heard and they must be listened to.”
O’Rourke’s comments came after he addressed the annual conference of Al Sharpton’s National Action Network in New York City.