Biden Cracks Consent Jokes Amid Inappropriate Touching Allegations

It was his first public appearance since several women made their accusations.

Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP

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Former vice president Joe Biden made light of the recent string of accusations that he had inappropriately touched women during his career on Friday, sarcastically warning a crowd of union workers that he had received “permission” to hug the group’s union leader, Lonnie Stephenson, as he greeted him onstage.

“I just want you to know, I had permission to hug Lonnie,” Biden said at the beginning of his remarks before the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers in Washington, DC. The line prompted laughter from the group, which was composed mostly of men.

Later in his address, Biden again cracked a joke about consent, this time after embracing a young boy, who was among several children who had gathered on stage for the event. “By the way, he gave me permission to touch him,” Biden said.

While the jokes may have landed with those present in the room, on social media, Biden’s remarks struck a much more cringeworthy note, with many pointing to the comments as evidence that the former vice president and likely 2020 Democratic contender had not registered the seriousness of the allegations against him.

https://twitter.com/MoiraDonegan/status/1114199150437064709

The event on Friday marked Biden’s first public appearance since the initial allegation of inappropriate touching from Lucy Flores, a Nevada Democrat, was published last week. As more women came forward to reveal similar encounters, Biden struggled to respond to the mounting controversy in a way that satisfied progressives. President Donald Trump has since seized on the allegations, mocking Biden in public remarks and later in a doctored video clip posted to Twitter. 

This post has been updated.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

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Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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