Joe Biden hasn't even officially launched his 2020 presidential campaign, but he's already reminding everybody that he's a terrible candidate.
Notoriously gaffe-prone, Biden launched two previous unsuccessful bids for the presidency — in 1988 and 2008 — but due to his association with the more politically astute President Barack Obama and the outpouring of sympathy following the tragic loss of his son, he became more well-known and popular. His strong polling, coupled with the fact that many pundits are convinced Democrats need to win over the rust belt and avoid veering too far to the Left, has created the impression that he's a formidable challenger.
Yet now that he's under scrutiny, people are starting to remember that he's actually a bumbling politician. The run-up to Biden's expected presidential announcement has been one stumble after another.
Biden has been put on the defensive over his involvement in the 1994 crime bill, his handling of the Anita Hill-Clarence Thomas hearings, and his friendly relationships with some Republicans. That, it turned out, was only the prologue to his mishandling of accusations that he made inappropriate contact with women.
Just this week, there was the awkward video in which he vowed to be "more mindful about respecting personal space in the future" without directly apologizing. Then, after President Trump tweeted out a parody video portraying a cutout of Biden giving himself a shoulder rub, Biden shot back with a response that managed to be lame while also re-broadcasting the video to all of his Twitter followers, giving it yet more attention.
But that only teed things up for the public relations trainwreck that came today, when he repeatedly made light of the controversy at an appearance of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers construction and maintenance conference at the Washington Hilton in D.C. "I just want you to know I had permission to hug Lonnie," he joked, referring to Lonnie Stephenson, the president of IBEW.
"I’m sorry I didn’t understand more," Biden told reporters following the speech. "I’m not sorry for any of my intentions. I’m not sorry for anything that I have ever done. I have never been disrespectful intentionally to a man or a woman. So yeah, that’s not the reputation I’ve had since I was in high school, for God’s sake."
This, of course, has led to another news cycle about how he isn't actually being contrite about his actions. And Lucy Flores, the woman who kicked off the latest wave of stories by recounting a time she said Biden sniffed her hair and kissed her on the back of the head, tweeted in response, "It’s clear @JoeBiden hasn’t reflected at all on how his inappropriate and unsolicited touching made women feel uncomfortable. To make light of something as serious as consent degrades the conversation women everywhere are courageously trying to have."
Biden has hinted at a presidential announcement in the coming month. His touchiness may not ultimately kill his candidacy, but the past few weeks should be a reminder that he isn't a strong candidate. He's the same mistake-prone politician who for years was a laughingstock and whose prior presidential runs failed for a reason.