Joe Biden‘s widely expected bid for the Democratic presidential nomination is under heavy scrutiny after he was accused of inappropriate conduct over the weekend.
Lucy Flores, a former Nevada legislator, published an essay on The Cut several days ago, alleging that the former vice president kissed and touched her inappropriately at an official event back in 2014. From the essay:
I felt him get closer to me from behind. He leaned further in and inhaled my hair. I was mortified. I thought to myself, “I didn’t wash my hair today and the vice-president of the United States is smelling it. And also, what in the actual fuck? Why is the vice-president of the United States smelling my hair?” 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. There is a Spanish saying, “tragame tierra,” it means, “earth, swallow me whole.” I couldn’t move and I couldn’t say anything. I wanted nothing more than to get Biden away from me.
In the wake of that article’s release, many have pointed out that Biden has a history of being slightly touchy-feely at events, even when cameras are rolling. A search on YouTube brings up hundreds of compilations depicting alleged conduct of that nature.
Now, Biden is scrambling to put out the fire ahead of a possible announcement that he is running for president. He has issued a statement in response to Flores’ allegation, saying that he does not 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,” Biden said.
“And not once – never – did I believe I acted inappropriately. If it is suggested I did so, I will listen respectfully.”
“But it was never my intention.”
Biden’s statement seems to acknowledge that the #MeToo movement possesses a lot of forward momentum and political power in our current moment, asserting that women have a right to tell their stories, while also denying this specific one:
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.
Biden’s advisers indicated that he still intends to announce his entry into the 2020 race at the end of April or early May.
Several of the former vide president’s female aides have put out statements defending him following Flores allegation. Cynthia Hogan, who worked for Biden as a congressional aide, said her experience working for Biden “was wonderful” and that he had “promoted several women… to leadership roles” during his career.
There’s yet to be a statement from Donald Trump, who will likely face some pushback if he decides to pursue it given the large number of sexual assault and misconduct allegations against him.