Biden says he’s ‘more cognizant’ of private space after allegations
ABC(NEW YORK) — Fresh off his much-anticipated entry into the 2020 presidential contest, former Vice President Joe Biden, opened his third campaign for the White House by joining ABC’s “The View” on Friday for the first television interview of his candidacy.
“What took so long?” asked “The View” co-host Meghan McCain.
“It’s a long road,” he said. “I think it’s plenty of time.”
In the lead up to his formal entry, Biden faced controversy after several women accused him of making them uncomfortable with what they considered inappropriate touching. He posted a video acknowledging that “social norms are changing” and promising he would be “much more mindful,” calling it his “responsibility.”
On Friday, Biden was asked about the allegations.
“Here’s the deal. I have to be much more aware of the private space of men and women,” he said on “The View. “And I am much more cognizant of that.”
Biden said he even considered it as he walked out at the start of the show and contemplated whether he should hug “The View” co-hosts.
“I actually thought in my head when I walked out here. I mean, do I? We’re friends you know?” he said. “I have to be more cognizant.”
He has also recently contended with questions over his handling of the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, when Anita Hill testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee, which Biden chaired at the time.
Biden has publicly apologized to Hill, and said in March, at the Biden Courage Awards, that he regrets that he “couldn’t come up with a way to get [Hill] the kind of hearing she deserved.”
A spokesperson for the former vice president told ABC News on Thursday that he expressed his regret directly to Hill.
“Vice President Biden has spoken with Anita Hill,” the spokesperson said. “They had a private discussion where he shared with her directly his regret for what she endured and his admiration for everything she has done to change the culture around sexual harassment in this country.”
On Friday, he said of the apology, “Since I had publicly apologized for the way she was treated … I didn’t want to, quote, invade her space.”
Biden added, “I was grateful she took my call.”
Hill spoke to the New York Times Thursday, and told the paper the discussion with the former vice president did not do enough to satisfy her.
“I cannot be satisfied by simply saying, ‘I’m sorry for what happened to you,'” Hill said.
“The View” co-host Joy Behar pressed Biden on his apology, “You know, I think what she wants you to say is I’m sorry for the way I treated you, not for the way you were treated.”
But Biden said he didn’t believe he treated Hill badly.
“If you go back and look what I said and didn’t say, I don’t think I treated her badly. I took on her opposition. What I couldn’t figure out how to do — and we still haven’t figured it out — how do you stop people from asking you inflammatory questions? How do you stop these character assassinations outside?”
His appearance on “The View” comes a day after Biden formally entered the race through a video posted on social media, in which he sought to carve out his own lane amid a crowded Democratic primary by taking direct aim at President Donald Trump and staking his candidacy on a “battle for the soul of this nation.”
Earlier Friday, Trump expressed confidence should he face-off with Biden, saying, “I think we beat him easily.”
The 72-year-old president also took a swipe at the 76-year-old former vice president’s energy level.
“I am a young, vibrant man,” Trump said. “I look at Joe. I don’t know about him. I don’t know.”
Asked how old is too old to be president, Trump said, “I would never say anyone is too old, but they’re making me look young, both in terms of age and energy. I think you people know that better than anybody.”
On “The View,” Biden was asked to respond to the president’s comment.
“Look, if he looks young and vibrant next to me I should probably go home,” he joked. “Everybody knows who Trump is and the best way to judge me is to watch, see if I have the energy in that capacity.”
The former vice president was also asked why he told former President Barack Obama not to endorse him when he announced his 2020 candidacy.
“I didn’t want it to look like he was putting his thumb on the scale,” Biden said. “I’m going to do this by who I am.”
And on his working relationship with Obama as his vice president, Biden said they got along because they were philosophically in the same place.
In his announcement video released Thursday, Biden recounted the tense, deadly clash between white nationalists and counter protesters at a 2017 rally in Charlottesville, Virginia and referred to Trump’s reaction in the wake of event that led to the death of Heather Heyer, when he said there are “some very fine people on both sides.”
“In that moment, I knew the threat to this nation was unlike any I had seen in our lifetime,” he said in the video. “The core values of this nation — our standing in the world, our very democracy, everything that has made America America — is at stake. That’s why today I’m announcing my candidacy for president of the United States.”
The core values of this nation… our standing in the world… our very democracy…everything that has made America — America –is at stake. That’s why today I’m announcing my candidacy for President of the United States. #Joe2020 https://t.co/jzaQbyTEz3
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) April 25, 2019
The 3 1/2-minute video does not include any specifics on policy proposals, but in it, Biden made clear who his target was: Trump.
Shortly after the release of his announcement video, he underscored the theme of his campaign in an initial fundraising email sent to supporters, writing, “If we give Donald Trump eight years in the White House, he will forever and fundamentally alter the character of this nation. I cannot stand by and watch that happen.”
The late entry by Biden this cycle was buttressed by a slew of early support from political allies and organized groups.
Both Sens. Chris Coons, D-Del., and Bob Casey, D-Penn., endorsed him shortly after his announcement.
The president of the International Association of Firefighters, Harold Shaitberger, told ABC News’ Senior Washington Reporter Devin Dwyer that despite supporting Trump in 2016, the group is fully behind Biden in 2020.
“That’s a big distinction from then and now,” Shaitberger said. “He has 40 years of supporting firefighters in every single way, whether it is jobs money to protect their jobs during the Great Recession, or whether it’s providing support for their families with the public officers death benefit bill.”
The newly minted presidential contender joins a field of 19 other Democratic hopefuls, who have spent the early months of the primary season competing to claim the progressive mantle.
But despite the potential hurdle of gaining support from the more liberal wings of the Democratic party against other progressive voices, Biden brings with him a decades-long, storied career as a fixture in American politics — that led him to one of the highest offices in the country during the eight years he served as vice president under former President Barack Obama — and long-standing, bipartisan appeal among working-class and Midwestern voters.
Often touted as “middle class Joe,” the former senator from Delaware starts his candidacy as the polling frontrunner in some of the early nominating states.
Biden’s campaign will focus on three major pillars: rebuilding the middle class, “the backbone of this country;” his experience as a leader on the world stage; and making democracy more inclusive by fixing campaign finance rules, voting rights, and gerrymandering.
This marks Biden’s third entry into a presidential race after deciding to stay on the sidelines of the 2016 presidential election.
Both of his previous attempts to run for the White House fell flat. His first run in 1988, when he cast himself as a young newcomer, was marred by a plagiarism scandal that led him to drop out of the contest after only a few months. Biden used elements of a speech by a British politician as his own, without attribution. In an interview with ABC News, Biden explained the scandal as “Stupid. My mistake. Born out of ignorance, thinking I didn’t have to prepare.”
In 2008, Biden sought the Democratic nomination again, running on his years of experience. But after only capturing 1 percent of the vote in the Iowa caucus and failing to win any delegates, he dropped out. Months later, his former opponent, then-Sen. Barack Obama, selected him as his running mate.
Over the next few weeks, Biden is expected to roll out his message on the road across several early voting states, including Iowa, South Carolina, Nevada, California and New Hampshire, before returning to Pennsylvania for a final kickoff event on May 18 in Philadelphia, with remarks focusing on “Unifying America, according to Biden’s campaign website.
He will hold his first event as a candidate at a union hall in Pittsburgh on Monday and alongside his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, he will sit down with Robin Roberts, co-anchor of ABC’s “Good Morning America,” ahead of his Pittsburgh event for an exclusive interview that will air on GMA Tuesday.
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