In his first television interview since announcing his run for president, former Vice President Joe Biden found himself sputtering a bit Friday when confronted by The View over multiple allegations of inappropriate touching and his treatment of Anita Hill.
Biden was initially greeted by The View hosts with a very warm welcome by the panel and extremely friendly audience. But the tone shifted halfway through the chat when co-host Sunny Hostin brought up recent accusations from multiple women that he invaded their personal space and made them feel “gross.”
“We’re in a different time now,” Hostin asked. “We’re in the #MeToo movement. Are you sorry for what you did? Are you prepared to apologize to those women?”
The former veep replied that “everybody has to be more away of the private space of men and women” before awkwardly asking the all-woman panel if he can hug them, noting that he wasn’t sure what to do when he walked out.
“It’s tricky,” co-host Joy Behar noted.
Biden then rambled a bit about how it is his responsibility to be “more aware” and how he needs to better read when “this is space no one wants me to invade.” He made sure to note that no one has categorized the allegations as having anything “to do with harassment.”
“They have said that,” Hostin replied. “They have also said they would like an apology.”
“Look, I’m really sorry if what I did is talk to them and trying to console that they took it a different way,” the former vice president replied. “It’s my responsibility to make sure that I bend over backwards to try to understand how not to do that.”
Behar interjected, pointing out that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi wants him to simply say “I’m sorry,” prompting the ex-veep to grow exasperated, still refusing to issue a clear apology.
“So I invaded your space. I’m sorry this happened,” he huffed. “I’m not sorry in the sense that I think I did anything that was intentionally designed to do anything wrong or be inappropriate. It was inappropriate that I didn’t understand that I took—I assumed—look, I was—anyway.”
After a commercial break, Biden was asked about his call to Anita Hill earlier this month—a call that Hill said left her dissatisfied as she wouldn’t describe it as an apology for his treatment of her during 1991 Senate hearings, in which she alleged sexual harassment by Supreme Court then-nominee Clarence Thomas.
Biden claimed he did everything he could to defeat Thomas’ confirmation while adding that he “believed her from the beginning,” causing the panel to grill him on whether he wanted to “clean this up right now” and directly apologize to her.
Asked why he didn’t reach out to Hill earlier, considering the hearings occurred 28 years ago, Biden said: “Since I had publicly apologized for the way she was treated... I didn’t want to, quote, invade her space.”
“I think she wants you to say I’m sorry for the way I treated you, not for the way you were treated,” Behar shot back. “That might be a littler closer.”
Biden, still unable to unequivocally apologize for his actions, answered: “But I’m sorry the way she got treated. I never heard—if you go back and look at what I said and I didn’t say, I don’t think I treated her badly. I took on her opposition.”
After saying he just was unable to figure out how to stop the inflammatory questions and character assassinations during the hearing, Biden broadly admitted “there were a lot of mistakes made across the board,” and for that he apologized.