Pelosi to Biden: 'Join the straight-arm club'

Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiUSMCA is nice but no model Anti-impeachment Democrat poised to switch parties Grassley urges White House to help farmers in year-end tax talks MORE (D-Calif.) on Tuesday offered some gentle advice to her friend and ally Joe BidenJoe BidenNew York Times editorial board calls for Trump's impeachment Graham invites Giuliani to testify about recent Ukraine trip Booker leads other 2020 Dems in petition urging DNC to change debate qualifications MORE, encouraging the former vice president to adopt a more hands-off approach to his interpersonal associations, particularly with women.

"I'm a member of the straight-arm club. … I just pretend that you have a cold and I have a cold," Pelosi said during a public interview with Politico in Washington.


"I've known Joe Biden a long time. My grandchildren love Joe Biden. He's an affectionate person — to children, to senior citizens, to everyone, that's just the way he is," she continued.

"But that's just not the way — join the straight-arm club with me, if you will."

Pelosi emphasized that she doesn't think the allegations facing Biden make him unfit for a run at the White House.

"I don't think it's disqualifying," she said, adding that any one of the Democratic contenders would be an improvement over President TrumpDonald John TrumpRepublicans aim to avoid war with White House over impeachment strategy New York Times editorial board calls for Trump's impeachment Trump rips Michigan Rep. Dingell after Fox News appearance: 'Really pathetic!' MORE.

But amid the "Me Too" movement — which has toppled a handful of Washington power brokers — she encouraged him to be more mindful of people's space.

"He doesn't understand — he has to understand — in the world that we're in now that people's space is important to them," she said, "and what's important is how they receive it, not necessarily how you intended it."

Biden, who is expected to enter the presidential race, has come under fire in recent weeks after a pair of women have alleged that he touched them inappropriately. Neither woman alleged the contact was sexual, but said it nonetheless made them feel uncomfortable.

On Monday, a Biden spokesman issued a lengthy statement saying the former vice president's interactions with women have been misinterpreted, particularly by the press. That defense came a day after Biden issued a statement of his own saying that if he crossed any lines in the past, it was unintentional.

"Not once — never — did I believe I acted inappropriately," he said. "If it is suggested I did so, I will listen respectfully. But it was never my intention."

Pelosi on Tuesday seemed to reject that argument, saying the intent of anyone's behavior toward another is not as important as how that behavior is received.

"It's important for the vice president and others to understand [that] it isn't what you intended, it's how it was received. ... Even in your marriage, if your spouse doesn't think you're communicating, you ain't communicating," Pelosi said.

"So to say, 'I'm sorry that you were offended,' is not an apology. 'I'm sorry I invaded your space' [is an apology], but not, 'I'm sorry you were offended.' Because what is that? That's not accepting the fact that people think differently about communication, whether it's a handshake or a hug," she added.