Live

Watch CBSN Live

Biden says he's "grateful" Anita Hill took his call

Joe Biden officially enters presidential race

Former Vice President Joe Biden, in the first television interview since he declared his presidential candidacy, said again that he's sorry for the way Anita Hill was treated when she testified before Congress about Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas, and he also talked about his recent conversation with her. Biden told ABC's "The View" that he believed Hill from the beginning.

"I'm sorry that she was treated the way she was treated," Biden said of Hill, who has said she was not satisfied by her phone call with him and does not support his candidacy. "She's one of the reasons why we have the Me-Too movement. She was one of the reasons why I was able to finish the Violence Against Women Act." He said he wouldn't judge whether Hill deemed his remorse sufficient, and he wishes lawmakers "could have figured out a better way" to conduct the hearing nearly decades ago.

He also talked about why so much time had transpired before he spoke with her.

"Since I had publicly apologized for the way she was treated...I didn't want to 'invade her space,'" Biden explained. He added that "I didn't treat her badly," but he didn't know how he could have stopped the "character assassination" against her.

"No woman, or any victim of harassment, should ever be put through that circumstance," Biden said. "We're all still looking for -- how do you change the process for having a hearing?"

Biden had called Anita Hill in the weeks leading up to his campaign launch to apologize for not doing more to support Hill during her 1991 testimony accusing Thomas of sexual harassment. Hill's dismissive treatment by the all-male committee inspired several women to run for office in 1992, which later became known as the "Year of the Woman." However, Hill told The New York Times in an interview Thursday that she found Biden's apology to be insufficient.

"I cannot be satisfied by simply saying, 'I'm sorry for what happened to you,'" Hill told the Times, adding that she could not support Biden until she felt that he had truly taken responsibility for his actions as the Judiciary Committee's chairman at the time. "I will be satisfied when I know there is real change and real accountability and real purpose."

"The focus on apology, to me, is one thing," Hill continued. "But he needs to give an apology to the other women and to the American public because we know now how deeply disappointed Americans around the country were about what they saw. And not just women. There are women and men now who have just really lost confidence in our government to respond to the problem of gender violence."

On "The View," Biden also addressed allegations that he had touched women inappropriately during his career.

"I have to be -- and everybody has to be -- much more aware of the private space of men and women," Biden said, vowing he would be "more careful" in his future interactions. He pointed out that no one had accused him of anything that was sexually inappropriate -- only of a lack of sensitivity about personal space. He said "I'm sorry I invaded your space" to the women who criticized him, but that he never intended to do anything inappropriate. He also said that he even had to give some thought to how he would greet the women hosts of "The View," some of whom he considers friends.

The former vice president sought to highlight the differences between him and President Trump during the interview and explained why he would be be able to win the white working class voters who defected to Mr. Trump in 2016. He said that "we have to restore dignity to work, have to restore dignity to the way we treat people." This president, Biden said, has done "nothing" to help "ordinary hard-working Americans" in the working and middle classes.

Mr. Trump tweeted Thursday that he welcomed "Sleepy Joe" to the race. On Friday morning, Mr. Trump questioned whether Biden is, at 76, was too old to run for president. He told reporters that he felt, at 72, like a "vibrant young man," but "I look at Joe and I don't know about him."

In his interview with "The View," Biden responded to that critique, saying it's the first time anyone has referred to him as "sleepy." It's usually "hyper Joe," he countered. 

"If he looks young and vibrant compared to me, I should probably go home," Biden joked about Mr. Trump. "The best way to judge me is to watch -- see if I have the energy and the capacity."

View CBS News In