The last thing anyone needs this election season is a new reason to cringe. We already have one of those — he’s loud, orange, and obsessed with tariffs. But lo! Joe Biden, the front-running presidential candidate, keeps making jokes about the fact that he can’t keep his hands to himself.
While Biden’s seemingly pathological need to touch those around him is off-putting (who among us really wants anyone — much less a 76-year-old former vice president — sniffing our heads?), and was at the center of the first scandal of his campaign, we thought the former veep might have gotten the message. But no. Since being called out in April by eight women, Biden has taken to using the accusations as something akin to a comedy routine. Sure, we guess political campaigns do bear some similarities to doing stand-up, but just…no.
In the post-Me Too era, one would think that joking about something that many women are sensitive about would become a no-go for a man who once appeared to take issues of consent seriously and wants to lead a party made up of a 59% female base, who are still angry that our sitting president is a pussy-grabber. And now, given news of Biden's support of the Hyde Amendment [Ed. note: Biden withdrew his support for the Hyde Amendment on June 7, just a couple of days after saying he supports it] which restricts abortion access for poor women, we're already left wondering about the former veep's respect for other people's bodies.
Joe, if you’re the Democratic nominee, we hope people vote for you, if only to prevent four more years of Trump. But please heed some advice that all of our moms gave us in kindergarten: Keep your hands to yourself, and don't be creepy. Yes, even — especially! — if you’re running for leader of the free world. We’re keeping tabs.
“I had permission to hug Lonnie.”
The Democratic candidate started making cringe-worthy jokes not long after he apologized, haphazardly, for his unwanted touching, promising to be more "mindful and respectful."
On Friday, April 5, just two days after releasing his apology video, Biden made two jokes about consent on-stage at a conference for union workers in Washington, D.C.
“I just want you to know, I had permission to hug Lonnie,” he said, after embracing International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers President Lonnie Stephenson.
Later in the night, during his speech, Biden made another joke after inviting a group of children on-stage. He shook each of the kids' hands. “By the way, he gave me permission to touch him,” he said, after he put his arm around one of the boys. Biden and the boy did not appear to have exchanged words before the embrace.
“I’ll bet you’re as bright as you are good-looking.”
“What I’m going to do, is if you give me an address, I’m going to write you a longer answer and tell you the exact things I’m going to do, okay? Promise?” he said.
When the girl told him she was interested in journalism, Biden took her hand and walked her over to where the press was stationed in the room. He stood behind her and put his hands on her shoulders as he addressed the press. A teacher who was present later released a statement saying that both the 10-year-old and her mother were "proud" of the interaction with the politician.
“She pulled me close.”
On June 4, at a campaign stop in New Hampshire, Biden made a joke about his history of inappropriate contact with women. After speaking closely with a female audience member, who was thanking the 76-year-old Democratic candidate for bringing her a chair, Biden said to the press: “I want the press to know, she pulled me close. I just want you to know, okay?”
"We have a secret going here," he said, after helping the woman up from sitting on the ground. It is unknown what the audience member was telling him, but she had called him a “sweetheart” earlier and seemed thankful to Biden for his help.
“You’ve got one job here, keep the guys away from your sister.”
At an Iowa coffee shop on June 12, Biden reportedly met a voter's granddaughter and asked her age. She said she was 13. Addressing her brothers, Biden said, “You’ve got one job here, keep the guys away from your sister.”
This is a developing story. We will update it as more information comes in.