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Biden hugs union leader at the start of speech and jokes 'I had permission'

Former Vice President Joe Biden on Friday joked about being accused of inappropriate physical contact at the start of his first speech since numerous women came forward with complaints.

Biden spoke to the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers on Friday and as he came on stage hugged the organization's president, Lonnie Stephenson. "I just want you know, I had permission to hug Lonnie," Biden told the audience. The remark prompted laughter and cheers.

This was Biden's first time speaking publicly since eight women came forward to say he made them feel uncomfortable with inappropriate physical contact, such as by grabbing their shoulders or kissing the back of their head. Biden in a video statement on Wednesday promised he would more "mindful" of people's personal space going forward.

Biden made the same joke about the allegations minutes later in his speech, per CBS' Mark Knoller, hugging a kid who had been invited on stage and saying, "By the way, he gave me permission to touch him." Brendan Morrow