Speaking to students at an anti-sexual assault rally on Tuesday, former Vice President Joe Biden renewed his criticisms of Donald Trump, and suggested that he would have "beat the hell out" of Trump had they attended high school together.
"A guy who ended up becoming our national leader said, 'I can grab a woman anywhere and she likes it,'" Biden told students at the University of Miami. He added:
They asked me if I’d like to debate this gentleman, and I said "no." I said, "If we were in high school, I’d take him behind the gym and beat the hell out of him." ... I've been in a lot of locker rooms my whole life. I'm a pretty damn good athlete. Any guy that talked that way was usually the fattest, ugliest S.O.B. in the room.
This comments were part of Biden's speech at the University of Miami's "It's on Us" rally on Tuesday. In addition to criticizing the president, Biden challenged students to hold their peers accountable for sexual assault and violence. He insisted that men on campus — including those in fraternities who may not have attended his talk — actively speak up against sexual violence, and urged all students to watch out for their friends.
“Guys, any man on campus who sees a fraternity brother take in a drunken coed up the stairs and doesn’t walk up and say, ‘Not in my house’ is a damn coward,” Biden told the crowd. “Flat, simple coward.”
During his speech, Biden also addressed the success of the #MeToo movement in generating more awareness about sexual assault, but argued that efforts to combat sexual violence still have a long way to go. He subsequently urged women at the University of Miami's campus to take advantage of the resources available to them.
"Sexual assault is about power and the abuse of power more than it is about sex," Biden said.
It's not just on the men. It's on you women, as well, on campus. All the studies show that 95 percent of young women who are abused — the first person they tell is their roommate, their friend, someone on campus. You've got to inform yourself as to what facilities are available, what help is available, not just empathize, hug and say, "I'm so sorry." You have an obligation to be informed.
Biden has long been vocal in discussions of sexual assault on college campuses and gender-based violence. He introduced the Violence Against Women Act in 1990, and in the last few years has spoken at many events with "It's on Us," an initiative launched at the White House in 2014 when Biden was still vice president. But Biden's name has also been floated as a possible contender for the 2020 presidential election, though Biden himself appears to be urging his aides and donors to avoid speculating about a potential White House run.
This isn't the first time Biden has criticized the current president on the basis of gender-based violence, either. Last month, Biden slammed the Trump administration for initially defending former West Wing staff secretary Rob Porter following allegations of spousal abuse — allegations that Porter denounced as “outrageous” and “simply false.” Biden also used his "ugliest S.O.B. in the room comment" about Trump back in the fall, during a speech at Rutgers University. At the time, Biden criticized the Trump administration for relaxing Obama-era guidances about investigating sexual assault on college campuses.
Biden has also explicitly challenged Trump's own behavior on numerous occasions, including this week at the University of Miami. Back in the fall, Biden told NBC's "Meet the Press" that Trump's recorded comments about grabbing women back in 2005 are the "textbook definition of sexual assault" and show an "instinctive abuse of power."
The former vice president concluded his speech on Tuesday by encouraging students to participate in Sexual Assault Awareness Month in April, including the Day of Action on April 3, the first Tuesday of the month. In a tweeted statement, the University of Miami thanked Biden for "bringing us your legacy of ending violence against women and empowering our students to take action."