- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden promised Wednesday that he will stop invading people’s personal space, as he sought to tamp down a growing number of complaints of inappropriate touching.

Hoping to keep his expected presidential campaign on track, Mr. Biden said the handshakes, hugs and shoulder rubs he delivered to men and women over nearly five decades in politics sprang from a desire to connect with people, not to make them uncomfortable.

But he acknowledged he’s out of step.

“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 in a video he posted to Twitter. 

He explained his handsy approach to politicking by referring to the personal contact that helped him during “the things that I’ve faced” in his own life. He also said others had reached out to him for human contact as solace in their time of need, and he felt like he was delivering that comfort in his hugs and touches.

Yet four women have come forward over the last week with stories of how Mr. Biden touched them in unwanted ways.

The allegations have stoked already simmering questions about whether Mr. Biden can be a viable candidate in the wake of the #MeToo movement and in a Democratic Party eager to tout its diversity and sensitivity.

President Trump, though, said the blowback on Mr. Biden’s touching is more evidence that the Democratic Party has been taken over by the far left.

“The socialists are really taking care of him,” Mr. Trump said at a Republican congressional fundraising event Tuesday in Washington.

Mr. Biden has not officially joined the 2020 Democratic field but is expected to do so. He has consistently held the lead in polling, though there is a loud wing of the party that says his time as a candidate is over.

On Capitol Hill, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other high-profile Democrats have stuck with Mr. Biden, as have many of his former colleagues and staff members, who have spoken out on his behalf.

In his video Wednesday, Mr. Biden said he’s always been a touchy-feely person but now accepts that things have changed. He said one change is that camera phone selfies are now the norm.

“But I will always believe governing quite frankly, life for that matter, is about connecting, about connecting with people,” he said. “That won’t change, but I will be more mindful and respectful of people’s personal space, and that’s a good thing, a good thing.”

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