House Speaker Nancy Pelosi responded to new allegations of Joe Biden’s inappropriate touching by defending the former vice president and then offering a suggestion:
Join the “straight-arm club.”
Pelosi offered this advice Tuesday during a POLITICO Playbook interview, in response to a question about whether Biden’s well-documented treatment of women should disqualify him as a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate.
“I don’t think it’s disqualifying,” Pelosi said, echoing a statement she made the day before. “I’ve known Joe Biden a long time. My grandchildren love Joe Biden. He’s an affectionate person, to children, to senior citizens, to everyone, but that’s just not the way.”
Pelosi also added that, in her opinion, Biden’s problem was a “communications” issue.
“I do think this about communication in general: I’m a member of the ‘straight-arm club.’ I’m a ‘straight-armer,'” Pelosi said, extending an arm toward the crowd. “I just pretend you have a cold and I have a cold.”
Pelosi was just one of several prominent Democratic women who rallied around Biden after complaints from two women about his odd and unwanted touching. U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) told WMUR-TV, “I was surprised by the allegation because that is not what I have seen from the Vice President.” Her colleague, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) called Biden “a warm, tactile person. He reaches out and he touches and it’s like this and that.
“It’s hardly sexy,” Feinstein said.
On Monday, a Connecticut woman told the Hartford Courant that at a 2009 Democratic fundraiser, Biden grabbed her and tried to “rub noses.”
“It wasn’t sexual, but he did grab me by the head,” Amy Lappos told the Courant on Monday. “He put his hand around my neck and pulled me in to rub noses with me. When he was pulling me in, I thought he was going to kiss me on the mouth.”
‘I never filed a complaint, to be honest, because he was the vice president. I was a nobody,” Lappos said.
Lappos says she came forward because she was bothered by Biden’s response to the story of Lucy Flores. Last week Flores shared her account of an uncomfortable encounter with Biden that involving unwanted kissing and hair sniffing. Biden responded to Flores’ complaint by releasing a statement on Twitter:
“In many years on the campaign trail and in public life, I have offered countless handshakes, hugs, expressions of affection, support and comfort. And not once — never — did I believe I acted inappropriately. If it is suggested I did so, I will listen respectfully.”
“I saw [Biden’s] statement this morning and I was really disgusted by it,” Lappos said. “He uses the word affection in there and that’s disgusting.
“I am so disappointed in my party, the Democratic Party, and the way we have treated Lucy Flores,” Lappos said.
Pelosi’s call for “straight-arming” in personal communications could be viewed as a suggestion for Joe Biden, or as guidance for women attempting to avoid unwanted touching. Either way, it hardly captures the #MeToo ethos of the current Democratic Party. It also indicates that Biden’s troubles are far from over.
One person who could help is Biden’s former boss, President Barack Obama. He has thus far been silent on the matter.
“Where are the Obamas?,” asked Tom Bevan of Real Clear Politics on Fox News Tuesday. “If his campaign becomes a roving apology tour, it’s a disaster for him.”