Nancy Pelosi – widely seen as the most powerful woman in Washington – has some advice for Joe Biden: keep your hands to yourself.
As Biden, the former vice president, scrambles to contain any political damage over his past behavior with women, the House speaker said at an event in Washington that her fellow Democrat and other male politicians should keep their distance during encounters with women and restrain from being touchy-feely.
“Join the straight-arm club with me,” Pelosi, who is the first female speaker, said of Biden during a live interview with Politico on Tuesday. “He’s an affectionate person, to children, to senior citizens, to everyone, but that’s just not the way.”
Over the past week, Biden – who has long been expected to launch a bid to be the Democratic candidate for the presidency in 2020 any time now – has been the subject of damaging news reports after two women accused him of inappropriate behavior towards them.
Pelosi said the two allegations of unwelcome contact should not keep Biden from running for the presidency in 2020.
“I don’t think it’s disqualifying,” she told the event on Tuesday. But she added that Biden “has to understand that in the world we are in now, people’s space is important to them and what’s important is how they receive it, not necessarily how you intended it”.
The former Nevada lawmaker Lucy Flores described in an essay for the Cut her discomfort when Biden kissed her on the head during a campaign event in 2014. She has since said the episode is disqualifying and that he should not run.