On Tuesday night, Joe Biden played part of the song Despacito by Luis Fonsi, the most popular song on YouTube. One of the lyrics in the song, translated from Spanish into English, is “I Want To Breathe On Your Neck Slowly.”
During his speech on Tuesday night, Joe Biden stepped onto the stage, walked to the podium, and began playing Despacito on his smartphone. The crowd, which was sparse apparently due to COVID-19, seemed unsure what to make of the event.
“I tell you what if I had the talent of any one of these people,” said Biden, “I’d be elected president by acclimation.”
— Washington Examiner (@dcexaminer) September 16, 2020
The song may prove an unfortunate choice for Biden, who has faced accusations from multiple women, including prominent democrats, of inappropriate touching and hair sniffing. The song is about a frantic relationship with a woman, and Fonsi at one point describes his desire to “breathe on” her “neck slowly.”
The lyrics, which may seem mundane until the litany of examples of Biden making women uncomfortable are taken into consideration, are as follows:
I want to breathe on your neck slowly
Let me tell you things in your ear
So that you remember if you are not with me
I want to undress you with kisses slowly
I sign on the walls of your labyrinth
And make your body a whole manuscript
While it may seem unlikely that 77-year-old Biden, who does not speak Spanish, is familiar with the lyrics of the song, the word “slowly” that repeatedly appears is translated from the Spanish word Despacito, the name of the song, which currently has almost 7 billion views on YouTube.
In the days leading up to and immediately after Biden’s presidential announcement, multiple prominent female Democrats came forward to express their concerns about the candidate, and to share their stories of how they were made to feel uncomfortable by what they considered inappropriate physical contact, including but not limited to hair touching and hair sniffing, kissing, and unwanted shoulder rubs.
The accusations were taken so seriously at the time that Kamala Harris, then a competitor to Biden but now his presidential running mate, said she believed the women and their accusations.
Lucy Flores, a former Nevada state Democrat, wrote in The Cut that in 2014, Biden grabbed her shoulders, leaned forward, smelled her hair, and then “proceeded to plant a big slow kiss” on the back of her head. “My brain couldn’t process what was happening,” Flores said.
Amy Lappos, a former congressional aide, then came out and discussed how Biden “grabbed her by the head,” put his hands around her neck, and pulled her in to rub noses. “There’s absolutely a line of decency. There’s a line of respect,” she argued. “Crossing that line is not grandfatherly. It’s not cultural. It’s not affection. It’s sexism or misogyny.”
Harris was asked about these experiences at a presidential campaign event in Nevada in April last year, where she said that she “believes them and respects them being able to tell their story and having the courage to do it.” When asked whether Biden should still run, Harris said he “is going to have to make that decision for himself,” as she “wouldn’t tell him what to do.”
Some clips of Biden appearing to make women uncomfortable have been seen millions of times.
Biden has been mocked for his use of the song, which has somewhat faded in popularity since it was released in 2018, and some have suggested the incident has similarities to a remark failed presidential Hillary Clinton made while speaking before a predominantly black audience. Clinton claimed that she always carries “hot sauce” in her purse.