Former Vice President Joe Biden said Tuesday he regretted the way he treated Anita Hill during the confirmation hearings for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas in 1991.
Biden acknowledged his role in the hearings, as his behavior has come under scrutiny while he positions himself to enter the presidential race, according to the New York Times. The remarks were made during the “Biden Courage Awards Ceremony” in New York.
In his emotional appeal, Biden said that Hill’s testimony was courageous. “She was abused through the hearing. She was taken advantage of. Her reputation was attacked,” he said. “We knew a lot less about the extent of harassment back then. It was over 30 years ago.”
As Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman, Biden believed he helped foster a tone that was “hostile and insulting.”
“I wish I could have done something … But I also realized there was a real and perceived problem the committee faced. We were a bunch of white guys hearing this testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee.”
“To this day, I regret I couldn’t come up with a way to get her the kind of hearing she deserved given the courage she showed by reaching out to us.”
Biden, who has not officially announced his candidacy for the 2020 Democratic nomination, is widely expected to enter the race. There has been speculation that he may select failed Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacy Abrams as his running mate to counter the perception that Biden represents the older establishment, according to Axios.
During his remarks, Biden stressed the need to “change the culture,” sharing the history of the term “rule of thumb,” which, according to Biden, was derived from an English common law issued in the 1300s to reduce the number of fatal wife-beatings and instructed men to not use rods thicker than the circumference of their thumb.
“This is English jurisprudential culture. A white man’s culture,” he emphasized.
The 76-year-old Biden has been polling as the leading favorite for the Democratic nomination.
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