House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said she doesn’t believe the inappropriate touching allegations against former Vice President Joe Biden disqualify him from the presidency.
“I don’t think that this disqualifies him from being president,” Pelosi told reporters Monday on Capitol Hill when asked about the accusations. “Not at all.”
A spokesman for Pelosi told HuffPost on Tuesday that she does feel Biden should apologize. The House speaker reiterated that sentiment during a livestreamed interview with Politico on Tuesday, adding that Biden should be more aware of how his actions may be received.
“I think that it’s important for the vice president and others to understand it isn’t what you intended, it’s how it was received,” Pelosi said of Biden’s alleged interactions with women. “He has to understand in the world we live in now, people’s space is important to them.”
Biden, who is expected to announce a 2020 presidential bid, has been accused by at least two women of inappropriately touching them while he was vice president.
Former Nevada Assemblywoman Lucy Flores published an op-ed for New York Magazine on Friday in which she said Biden approached her from behind, put his hands on her shoulders, smelled her hair and kissed the back of her head during a Las Vegas campaign rally in 2014. She was running for Nevada lieutenant governor at the time.
“I froze. ‘Why is the vice-president of the United States touching me?’” she wrote, adding that the alleged interaction left her feeling “uneasy, gross, and confused.”
On Monday, The Hartford Courant published an accusation from another woman, Amy Lappos, who said Biden grabbed her by the head and rubbed noses with her during a 2009 fundraising luncheon in Connecticut.
“It wasn’t sexual, but he did grab me by the head,” Lappos told the Courant. “When he was pulling me in, I thought he was going to kiss me on the mouth.”
Biden released a statement Sunday saying he “never” believed he was acting inappropriately during his many years in the public eye.
“If it is suggested I did so, I will listen respectfully. But it was never my intention,” he said in his statement. He has not apologized for any upset his actions may have caused the women he came in contact with.
Pelosi said Tuesday that Biden is an “affectionate person,” but that he should accept that “people think differently about communication.”
“To say, ‘I’m sorry that you were offended,’ is not an apology,” she told Politico. “I’m sorry I invaded your space, but not I’m sorry you were offended. … That’s not accepting the fact that people think differently about communication, whether it’s a handshake, a hug.”