Noting that "times have changed," Dr. Jill Biden said that her husband, former Vice President Joe Biden, had to "back off" from expressing the type of physical affection that was so common to his family background.
"Recently, I mean, things, times have changed," Biden told CNN on Tuesday. "And, Joe has heard that, you know, to back off and give people their space."
She was discussing the controversy surrounding allegations that her husband inappropriately touched a number of women. The allegations arose before he announced his 2020 run and prompted him to release a video in which he said he didn't think he was engaging in inappropriate behavior, but would listen to concerns.
“He has now taken responsibility for that,” Biden said of her husband. She indicated that the political atmosphere had changed since she was younger and wouldn't have had the courage to speak up like other women have.
“And someone asked me, you know, did this ever happen to you? And I have to say it has happened to me," she said. "And I, like 20 years ago, and I did not have the courage to speak up then and say 'stop that, you’re in my space.' Now, I would have the courage. But 20 years ago, I wouldn’t. Times have changed.”
She recalled how she felt uncomfortable after entering her husband's family given that she wasn't someone who regularly showed public affection. “Yeah, he comes from a very affectionate family. They’re always touching,” she said before noting her admiration for his ability to make connections with people.
"Charmed" actress Alyssa Milano caught flak after she similarly defended Biden, citing a "culture difference" and his family's inclination toward physical affection.
"For me, the thing that set this story -- the Ms. Flores story -- apart from all the other stories: To Joe, this was a culture difference, because culturally he was raised in a family that was super affectionate,” she told MSNBC at the beginning of May.
After his 2020 announcement, the former vice president emerged as the clear frontrunner to challenge President Trump's re-election bid.
When asked how her family would respond to Trump's criticisms, she said she wouldn't take the president's "bait."