Joe Biden praises former Sen. Bob Packwood at a women's event in Washington
Packwood resigned infamously amid allegations of sexual harassment in 1995
Biden championed the Violence Against Women Act in 1994
Packwood had been known for pro-choice stance and had support from feminist groups
At a women’s leadership event, Vice President Joe Biden on Friday briefly praised a senator notoriously known for resigning amid sexual harassment allegations.
Biden, a former senator who authored the Violence Against Women Act in 1994, was listing women’s issues at the center of congressional fights between Republicans and Democrats.
As he often does, Biden said he missed the old guard in the GOP, some of whom he said were strong backers of now Democratic priorities like raising the minimum wage and equal pay.
This time, he singled out former Sens. Bob Packwood of Oregon and Charles “Mac” Mathias of Maryland as examples.
“It was Republicans that were involved,” Biden said at the event, hosted by the Democratic National Committee. “Guys like Mac Mathias and Packwood and so many others. It wasn’t Democrats alone. Republicans were the sponsors of the raises of the minimum wage. I could go on and on. I’m not joking: This is not your father’s Republican Party, or your mother’s Republican Party.”
Packwood, a senator for 26 years, was known for his pro-choice stance and had support from feminist groups, including Planned Parenthood.
But in 1995, the Senate Ethics Committee recommended that he be expelled from Congress because of sexual and official misconduct. Ten women had accused him of sexual harassment. At the urging of even his closest colleagues, Packwood resigned.
A source close to Biden, who asked not to be named, said, “Throughout his entire career, the vice president has been a leading voice in the fight to stop violence against women.”
His speech came just days after Biden, who hasn’t ruled out a presidential bid in 2016, said he regretted using what’s considered an anti-Semitic term in a separate speech.
CNN’s Becky Brittain, Sara Fischer, and Dana Bash contributed to this report.