Former second lady Jill Biden writes in her forthcoming memoir that her husband and his family’s touchy-feely style made her feel “strange and uncomfortable” when the pair first began dating, according to the Daily Mail.
The report comes as several women have come forward to accuse former Vice President and possible 2020 Democrat presidential candidate Joe Biden of inappropriate touching in recent days.
The Daily Mail reports:
‘He was always holding my hand, putting his arm around me, or brushing the hair from my face,’ when they began dating, the former Second Lady writes in her ‘deeply personal’ memoir Where the Light Enters: Building a Family, Discovering Myself due out next month and exclusively obtained by DailyMailTV. She admits that being thrust into a family of ‘huggers’ made her feel ‘strange and uncomfortable’, writing that Joe and his two young sons ‘never wanted to miss a chance to hold a hand, wrap their arms around each other, or give a kiss’.
She says that as an introvert, she ‘sometimes found all that affection draining’, but knew that it was the death of his first wife Neilia and their baby daughter Naomi that gave the family an understanding of ‘how precious every second could be’, which was displayed by ‘constantly touching’ and ‘being connected to each other’.
Jill tells of Joe’s nighttime ritual with the boys where he’d gently scratch their backs and arms as they settled in to sleep. ‘With your fingernails!’, the boys would insist.
‘He did the same at Mass as a way of keeping them still,’ she writes.
In his first public appearance since the allegations, Biden on Friday made light of his tendency to be affectionate while delivering a speech aimed at winning back the white, blue-collar workers who backed President Donald Trump in 2016.
In a pointed reference to his own current controversy, at the beginning of the 40-minute speech, the former vice president embraced Lonnie Stephenson, the male president of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. He told his audience, “I just want you to know, I had permission to hug Lonnie.”
The quip was met with cheers.
Biden was alluding to a controversy that began last week as he gears up for a presidential run. Nevada politician Lucy Flores said she was uncomfortable when Biden kissed her on the back of the head backstage at a 2014 campaign event.
Halfway through his speech, Biden invited children on stage and shook their hands.
“Hey all those kids, you want to come up on the stage, you can come up, it’s okay, come on up, come one,” said the 76-year-old. “Any kids can come up.”
“By the way, he gave me permission to touch him, okay?” he then cracked before adding, “Everyone knows I like kids better than people.”
After his remarks, Biden told reporters he would not apologize for his affectionate style and conceded he wouldn’t be shocked if additional allegations surfaced.
“The fact of the matter is, I made it clear if I made anyone feel uncomfortable, I feel badly about that. That was never my intention ever, ever, ever,” Biden said. “I’m sorry I didn’t understand. I’m not sorry for any of my intentions. I’m not sorry for anything I have ever done. I’ve never been disrespectful intentionally to man or woman. That’s not the reputation I’ve had since I was in high school.”
Flores took to social media to criticize Biden’s remarks, tweeting: “It’s clear @JoeBiden hasn’t reflected at all on how his inappropriate and unsolicited touching made women feel uncomfortable. To make light of something as serious as consent degrades the conversation women everywhere are courageously trying to have.”
Biden said in a cellphone video released Wednesday that he understood “social norms have begun to change” and “the boundaries of protecting personal space have been reset.”
“Social norms are changing,” tweeted former President Barack Obama’s number two. “I understand that, and I’ve heard what these women are saying.”
“Politics to me has always been about making connections, but I will be more mindful about respecting personal space in the future,” he added. “That’s my responsibility and I will meet it.”
The past few weeks have laid bare the challenges Biden would face. Some women’s groups have balked at his attempts to apologize for his role overseeing the Senate hearings in which Anita Hill accused Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment.
President Donald Trump has joined the criticism, tweeting a meme of a Biden avatar sniffing Biden as he appears to squeezes his shoulders. On Friday, the president said he is not worried about a possible 2020 matchup against Biden.
“I just don’t see him as a threat. He’s been there a long time. His record’s not good. He’d have to run on the Obama failed record,” President Trump told reporters outside the White House.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.