A Helena woman is receiving national attention for an op-ed she wrote defending former Vice President Joe Biden.
Biden, a Democrat, is considering a presidential run. He also faces accusations from women of inappropriate touching.
“My intention in sharing my story had nothing to do with politics, or trying to discredit those women who did come forward,” said Jeannie Etchart, who has previously worked for Republicans including George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and Sarah Palin. “I just wanted to share my experience with him, because it was kind of the other side.”
Her take, titled “In Defense of Joe Biden: A Hug When I Needed One,” was published on Medium on April 4th. She initially intended it for friends and family to read, but it has since been shared on Twitter by multiple reporters working for national outlets, to mixed response.
In the op-ed, Etchart says her father, John, was diagnosed with stage four brain cancer in 2016. That’s the same diagnosis as Biden’s son Beau, who died in 2015.
Etchart’s father died in April 2017.
Because of their similar experiences, Etchart said she felt a connection with Biden, calling him one of her heroes.
She ended up meeting him during an event in Helena last year, just days after her mother, Sarah, died from Alzheimer’s.
Etchart wrote, they shared a “long, big hug,” and he was genuine.
She told MTN Monday she believes there are no bad intentions behind Biden’s displays of physical affection. That is part of why she shared her story.
“There’s of course, the big issue of consent,” she said. “And it’s of course, you know, appropriate to ask for that, and to make yourself aware of, but at least in my one situation, it was welcome. A hug, when I needed one.”
“I never for a minute felt uncomfortable, or that he was creepy,” said Etchart. “I think he would have hugged a young man in the same situation.”
She ended her piece with this:
My point in telling this story is that, while Vice President Biden has a very personal and affectionate way about him, it is only because he loves people. He loves people’s stories. Man, woman, child. Father, mother, son, daughter, spouse. He knows people are hurting and can relate and offer genuine support. And human touch is the most basic form of relaying that. There is no ulterior motive — he just wants to get close to everyone. Because he cares about their stories. And is human. And THAT is what matters most and crosses all party lines.
Etchart told MTN she no longer considers herself a Republican; she votes for who she likes based on policy. She said she would consider voting for Biden, if he runs for president.
-Reported by Evelyn Schultz/MTN News