Remember a while back when a slew of women came forward to say they had been victims of unwanted touching by Democrat Joe Biden? Boy, that story sure did disappear fast (just as did the one about the Democratic governor of Virginia dressing in blackface).
But with the former vice president expected to announce his 2020 bid for the presidency on Wednesday, one victim is still speaking out.
Lucy Flores, a Democrat and former Nevada assemblywoman who ran for lieutenant governor in 2014, accused Biden of inappropriately touching her during a campaign rally, saying she felt uncomfortable and demeaned by his touching. She said Biden grabbed her shoulders from behind, leaned in close and smelled her hair, then kissed her head without permission.
After staying silent for more than a week, Biden put out a video on Twitter in which he explained his touchy-feely “expressions of affection,” but did not apologize. A few days later, delivering a speech at the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Biden hugged union president Lonnie Stephenson, then joked: “I just want you to know I had permission to hug Lonnie.”
Later, he invited a group of children on stage. As he wrapped his arm around one of the youngster’s shoulders and neck, he said: “By the way, he gave me permission to touch him.”
Flores on Monday said Biden joking about such a serious matter is “so incredibly disrespectful.”
“The basis of the behavior that I talked about was something much more serious than just a hug,” Flores said on Fox News. “That is unprofessional, inappropriate behavior, no matter who does it,” Flores added, saying that Biden and others have made light of his long history of openly affectionate behavior toward others, particularly women.
“We’re talking about the fact that, as women, we have had to endure this kind of inappropriate behavior on behalf of powerful men certainly for as long as I’ve been alive — you know, forever,” Flores said.
Numerous women said Biden did the same thing to them. Amy Lappos told The Hartford Courant that “Biden touched her inappropriately and rubbed noses with her during a 2009 political fundraiser in Greenwich when he was vice president.”
“He put his hand around my neck and pulled me in to rub noses with me. When he was pulling me in, I thought he was going to kiss me on the mouth,” she told the paper.
A few days later, two more women came forward. “Caitlyn Caruso, a former college student and sexual assault survivor, said Mr. Biden rested his hand on her thigh — even as she squirmed in her seat to show her discomfort — and hugged her ‘just a little bit too long’ at an event on sexual assault at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. She was 19,” The New York Times reported.
Biden has defended his actions as “expressions of affection,” saying he didn’t believe he “acted inappropriately.”
“In my many years on the campaign trail and in public life, I have offered countless handshakes, hugs, expressions of affection, support and comfort. And not once — never — did I believe I acted inappropriately. If it is suggested I did so, I will listen respectfully,” he said in a statement.
“But it was never my intention. I may not recall these moments the same way, and I may be surprised at what I hear. But we have arrived at an important time when women feel they can and should relate their experiences, and men should pay attention. And I will.”
In his later Twitter video, he explained — but did not apologize for — his touchy-feely ways in the past. “Social norms have begun to change, they’ve shifted, and the boundaries of protecting personal space have been reset, and I get it,” Biden said. “I hear what they’re saying. I understand it. I’ll be much more mindful. That’s my responsibility, and I’ll meet it.”