The morning after his first big 2020 presidential campaign event, former Vice President Joe Biden addressed Anita Hill's treatment during the Clarence Thomas hearings. Speaking to Robin Roberts on ABC's Good Morning America, Biden also acknowledged his recent apology to Hill, whose experience before the Senate Judiciary Committee was reevaluated by many following Brett Kavanaugh and Dr. Christine Blasey Ford's testimonies.
"I believed her from the very beginning, but I was chairman," Biden told Roberts in an interview taped Monday and aired Tuesday. "She did not get a fair hearing. She did not get treated well. That's my responsibility ... As the committee chairman, I take responsibility that she did not get treated well. I take responsibility for that."
Roberts read from The New York Times interview with Hill that came out after Biden's campaign released a statement saying that he and Hill had spoken. "I cannot be satisfied by simply saying, 'I’m sorry for what happened to you,'" Hill told the paper. "I will be satisfied when I know there is real change and real accountability and real purpose."
"That's what she told me. I was grateful she took the call," Biden said in response. "One of the things — I don't want to get into our private conversation — but the point is, look, I was chairman of the committee."
Apart from taking responsibility for what happened during the hearings in October 1991, Biden said he is "determined to continue the fight to see to it that we basically change the culture in this country" so that a woman isn't put in a position "where she is disbelieved."
"I apologize again because she just did not get treated fair across the board," Biden continued. "The system did not work."
On Good Morning America, Biden was joined by his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, who addressed several women's allegations that Biden had touched them in ways that made them feel uncomfortable. Biden had previously said in a statement that he doesn't believe he ever acted inappropriately.
"I've known Joe for 44 years and one of the things I've always admired about him is the way he does connect with people," Jill told Roberts. "And in 44 years I hadn't heard negative comments, but now is a different time. Women, men are in a different place now and so we have to honor that."
Biden also said that now he will act differently in such situations. "I've always thought that part of leadership, part of politics was listening to people, hearing them, making them feel comfortable," Biden told Roberts. "It's my responsibility to be more sensitive to whether or not someone wants me to reassure them or wants to say hello or wants to show affection and support. And that's my responsibility."
Jill agreed, noting to Roberts that many people approach Biden seeking "comfort or empathy" from him. "But going forward, I think he's going to have to judge — be a better judge — when people approach him how he's going to react. That he maybe shouldn't approach them," Jill said.
Biden also shared what his 2020 slogan might be. "Make America moral again," Biden told Roberts. "Make America return to the essence of who we are, the dignity of the country, the dignity of the people, treating our people with dignity."