Democratic presidential contenders began weighing in over the weekend on whether former Vice President Joe Biden should join the race for the 2020 Democratic nomination now that he's been accused of sexual harassment and "inappropriate touching" by a former colleague — and they want real answers.
In an essay published last week by The Cut, Lucy Flores, who was a former Democratic nominee for Nevada lieutenant governor, claimed that Biden became inappropriately affectionate at a campaign rally in 2014, while he was serving as the nation's vice president, kissing her on the back of the head and making her feel "uneasy, gross, and confused."
"I felt him get closer to me from behind. He leaned further in and inhaled my hair. I was mortified," Flores wrote. "He proceeded to plant a big slow kiss on the back of my head. My brain couldn't process what was happening. I was embarrassed. I was shocked. I was confused."
The issue quickly made a splash among 2020 Democratic contenders, who have been running well behind Biden in early states even though the former VP has yet to officially announce he's running for president.
Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren was the first to speak out about the allegations, telling a crowd in Iowa Saturday, "I read the op-ed last night," and "I believe Lucy Flores. And Joe Biden needs to give an answer."
Lesser known Democratic candidate Julian Castro, who also served in President Barack Obama's Cabinet, told an Iowa audience, "we need to live in a nation where people can hear her truth," and that Flores needs to be believed.
Biden, who, at the height of the #MeToo movement that exposed serial sexual harassers within the ranks of mainstream media and the Hollywood entertainment complex, was quick to note that women who make allegations of sexual impropriety should be believed, said through his spokesman last week that he "does not recall" any incidents with Flores.
Vice President Biden was pleased to support Lucy Flores's candidacy for Lieutenant Governor of Nevada in 2014 and to speak on her behalf at a well-attended public event. Neither then, nor in the years since, did he or the staff with him at the time have an inkling that Ms. Flores had been at any time uncomfortable, nor do they recall what she describes. ...
But Vice President Biden believes that Ms. Flores has every right to share her own recollection and reflections, and that it is a change for better in our society that she has the opportunity to do so. He respects Ms. Flores as a strong and independent voice in our politics and wishes her only the best.
Biden's spokesman added Saturday that Biden is well known for his "character" and his "values," according to CNN.
But Democratic activists and some left-leaning media were quick to point out late last week that, while Flores is the first to commit publicly to claims of harassment against Biden, she's hardly the first woman to have been touched inappropriately — even publicly — by the former vice president. Vox Media pointed out that Biden has been "caught on camera" several times, snuggling, hugging, and kissing women, often with the women looking very uncomfortable.
Vox claims Biden has "gotten a pass" on his behavior from the media — at least until he challenged more "woke" candidates for the nation's highest office.
Now that Biden is considered a real contender to take on President Donald Trump in 2020, operatives seem determined to dig up dirt on his former life as vice president and as a legislator. The harassment allegations seem to have bubbled to the surface at just the right time to torpedo a burgeoning presidential campaign that could easily skate to victory over other, preferred, identity politics-focused candidates.