U.S. Sen. Doug Jones, D-Ala., defended Joe Biden from allegations of misconduct, saying it’s “not for others to judge” and agreed that the stories of inappropriate conduct “distract” Democrats from beating President Trump in the 2020 election.
Jones, a vulnerable Democrat in a deep-red state, appeared on a Mother Jones podcast that was posted Wednesday, where he effectively endorsed Biden amid his expected candidacy announcement Thursday and offered a defense of the latest allegations of inappropriate behavior by Biden toward women.
“I’ve been very candid about this in the past — my closest friend in this field of candidates has been someone I’ve known for 40 years. And that’s former Vice President Biden,” Jones said during the interview.
“And despite the issues that he’s faced, I still think that he has the ability to reach people from all ends of the political spectrum and govern this country.”
Jones defended Biden despite having voted against the confirmation of Justice Brett Kavanaugh last year on the grounds that it would send a negative message on sexual harassment, even as allegations against Kavanaugh weren’t corroborated.
“You know, it’s funny, I think he’s said some of the right things, I think he’s said some wrong things. I think the thing that people need to remember that it’s not for others to judge.”
In the interview, Jones was pressed on the allegations concerning Biden, where numerous women came forward in recent months detailing incidents of the former vice president touching them inappropriately over the years. Biden didn’t deny the allegations and said in a video released last month that he’ll “be more mindful about respecting personal space in the future.”
“You know, it’s funny, I think he’s said some of the right things, I think he’s said some wrong things. I think the thing that people need to remember that it’s not for others to judge,” Jones said, noting that “it’s really for the people who are at the receiving end of that.”
“I won’t use the term ‘innocent’ because that’s probably not appropriate, but I don’t think Joe Biden ever had the kind of intention you had that in a harassing kind of way or an assaulting kind of way,” he continued.
“I won’t use the term ‘innocent’ because that’s probably not appropriate, but I don’t think Joe Biden ever had the kind of intention you had that in a harassing kind of way or an assaulting kind of way.”
“And I’ve said that for years anyway. I’ve said it about civil rights, I’ve said it about other things. It goes back to Atticus Finch, you gotta walk around in someone else’s shoes to see things from their point of view. And I think this is a very, very significant moment where more and more people are taking a look at that.”
But Jones’ tone seemed entirely different during last year's hearings on Kavanaugh's nomination to the Supreme Court, during which several women alleged sexual misconduct against Kavanaugh.
“What message will we send to our daughters & sons, let alone sexual assault victims?” Jones tweeted as he announced his “no” vote on Kavanaugh. “The message I will send is this—I vote no. #RightSideofHistory”
Later in the recent interview, Jones also agreed that debates about Biden and allegations against him “sort of distract from the ultimate goal that Democrats have of beating Donald Trump.”
“Oh, absolutely, I think a lot of things, I mean, I think, you know, President Obama this weekend in Berlin at the Obama Foundation was talking about Democrats having a circular firing squad over things that are important but not something that can win the election.
“I think that we have to not be so rigid, I think we have to not be so judgmental on every issue that comes up but I think we will do that,” he added.