In the days prior to Joe Biden announcing his presidential candidacy in April, multiple women came forward and accused Biden of inappropriate conduct like unwanted touching and uncomfortable comments. Following the allegations, the politician released a video statement apologizing for any discomfort he may have caused and promised to "listen" in conversations about consent and sexual harassment going forward. Yet that has not seemed to have actually happened so far in the eyes of many people, including Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
During an appearance on ABC's This Week on June 16, Ocasio-Cortez expressed doubt that Biden has really learned from the allegations leveled against him. When asked by ABC correspondent Jonathan Karl whether she felt that the candidate has "sufficiently answered the accusations" from the women — "In short, does he get it?" asked Karl — Ocasio-Cortez implied that she doesn't fully believe he does.
"I think that's something that he has to show the electorate," she said, after taking a deep breath. "I think that it is an issue where there is a struggle, I'll be completely honest."
Ocasio-Cortez added that she believes there's still "some discomfort" in Biden's actions regarding women. "Especially seeing some clips this week, and you know the week before, telling a 13-year-old, telling her brothers to watch out for her," she explained. "I think there are some things with female voters that he's just not quite locked down, and I think that there's some ways to go."
The moment with the teenager that Ocasio-Cortez referred to reportedly occurred at a Biden campaign event in Iowa in early June. A Boston Globe reporter tweeted that while meeting a 13-year-old girl, Biden asked her her age, then reportedly turned to her brothers and told them to “keep the guys away from your sister.”
Not long before that incident, in late May, Biden told a 10-year-old girl at a Texas event, “I’ll bet you’re as bright as you are good-looking," per Glamour.
Shortly after the Iowa event, another person shared an interaction they had with the candidate that they said left them feeling uncomfortable. In a tweet, K.C. Cayo said they challenged Biden on his support of the Hyde Amendment (a bill that blocks federal Medicaid funding for abortion services; Biden originally supported it, but has since reversed his stance) causing him to wag his finger in their face, as shown in the photo Cayo posted alongside the tweet.
In an interview with Vice after the post went viral, Cayo revealed that the interaction left them rattled. “I can now make the connection between the man I saw and the man accused of harassment by multiple women,” they said. “I saw a man capable of those things: A man who can’t take responsibility, who doesn’t respect women, and who gets in their personal space.”
These recent incidents, coupled with the times that Biden has joked about the inappropriate touching allegations during public speaking events ("I just want you to know, I had permission to hug Lonnie," USA Today reports that he said during a speech in April about Lonnie Stephenson, the man who introduced him), have further incensed the many people who felt that Biden's response to the initial allegations had been glib. It seems that despite the nature of the claims, the politician hasn't taken the claims against him seriously or truly tried to change his ways.
During her interview with This Week about Biden, Ocasio-Cortez said that while she thinks the understands that he hasn't "necessarily convinced all women" that he has changed his ways, she also doesn't believe most voters "think he's necessarily guilty of sexual misconduct or anything like that." Ultimately, said Ocasio-Cortez, it's not a black-and-white situation. "Is he a bad person, or is he a good person? I don't think it's about that," she explained.
The representative's comments are wise; they don't offer Biden unconditional support or discredit his accusers, but also don't include anything that could place Ocasio-Cortez as one of Biden's adversaries, should he become the Democratic candidate. Currently, Biden's polling numbers give him a high likelihood of becoming the Democratic nominee for president, even with the allegations that've been made against him in recent months.