Nancy Pelosi calls on Joe Biden to join the ‘straight arm club’ after women share discomfort with his physical interactions

House speaker calls on former vice president to acknowledge that 'people’s space is important to them'

Chris Riotta
New York
Tuesday 02 April 2019 18:13 BST
Nancy Pelosi defends former Vice President Joe Biden saying claims are not 'disqualifying' for a potential 2020 presidential bid

Nancy Pelosi has called on Joe Biden to join the “straight arm club” after multiple women expressed discomfort over their physical interactions with the former vice president.

The Democratic House speaker was answering questions about whether accusations from Lucy Flores and Amy Lappos about seemingly inappropriate contact with Mr Biden disqualified him from running in the 2020 presidential elections, as he has been considering in recent months.

Neither women claimed their exchanges with Mr Biden reached the level of assault or sexual misconduct.

Ms Pelosi said she did not believe the controversy disqualified Mr Biden from potentially joining the race, though she encouraged him to acknowledge that “people’s space is important to them.”

“I’m a member of the straight-arm club,” she said, fully extending her arm as if to shake a hand from a small distance. “I just pretend you have a cold, and I have a cold.”

Mr Biden “has to understand that in the world we’re in now, people’s space is important to them, and what’s important is how they receive it, and not necessarily how you intended it,” Ms Pelosi said on Tuesday during an interview with Politico that was live-streamed.

The House speaker added that her grandchildren “love Joe Biden,” who she said she knows well and described as “a very affectionate person.”

Both Ms Flores and Ms Lappos have accused Mr Biden of inappropriately touching them in public in seemingly awkward exchanges with the former vice president, who has been occasionally referred to as “Creepy Uncle Joe” by critics who believe he has been too hands-on with women along the campaign trail.

“I think it’s important for the vice president and others to understand, it isn’t what you intended, it’s how it was received,” Ms Pelosi said on Tuesday.

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She added, “It’s how it is received, so to say, ‘I’m sorry that you were offended’ is not an apology. ‘I’m sorry I invaded your space,’ but not ‘I’m sorry you were offended.’”

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