Joe Biden responds to accusations of inappropriate touching with video message
Last week, Nevada lawmaker Lucy Flores wrote an essay for New York magazine The Cut accusing former vice president Joe Biden of touching her inappropriately backstage at a campaign event in 2014.
"I felt him get closer to me from behind," wrote Flores. "He leaned further in and inhaled my hair. I was mortified... 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... I couldn’t move and I couldn’t say anything. I wanted nothing more than to get Biden away from me."
In response, Biden, who is rumored to be planning a 2020 presidential campaign, issued a statement: "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. But it was never my intention."
"I may not recall these moments the same way, and I may be surprised at what I hear," he added. "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."
On Monday, former congressional staffer Amy Lappos told the Hartford Courant that Biden rubbed her nose with his nose at a 2009 Greenwich fundraiser. "It wasn't sexual, but he did grab me by the head," she told the publication. "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."
On Tuesday, two additional women came forward with allegations of inappropriate touching. Former University of Las Vegas student Caitlyn Caruso told The New York Times that Biden placed his hand on her thigh and hugged her "just a little bit too long" at a 2014 campus event when she was 19. Meanwhile, writer D.J. Hill told the Times Biden dropped his hand from her her shoulders to her back, making her "very uncomfortable."
On Wednesday, Biden responded to the allegations in a video posted on Twitter. "I've never thought of politics as cold and antiseptic," he stated. "I've always thought it about connecting with people, as I said, shaking hands, hands on the shoulder, a hug, encouragement, and now, it's all about taking selfies together. You know, social norms have begun to change, they've shifted, and the boundaries of protecting personal space have been reset, and I get it, I get it."
"I hear what they're saying, I understand it, and I'll be much more mindful, that's my responsibility. My responsibility, and I'll meet it," the 76-year-old continued. "I will be more mindful and respectful of people's personal space, and that's a good thing... "I've worked my whole life to empower women. I've worked my whole life to prevent abuse, I've written, and so the idea, that I can't adjust to the fact that personal space is important, more important than it's ever been, is just not thinkable. I will. I will."
Hours later, Flores responded to Biden's video, writing, "I'm glad Vice President Joe Biden acknowledges that he made women feel uncomfortable with his unsolicited gestures of encouragement. Given the work he has done on behalf of women, Vice President Biden should be aware of how important it is to take personal responsibility for inappropriate behavior."
"And yet, he hasn't apologized to the women he made uncomfortable," she continued. "Times are changing, yes, but not because once appropriate behavior is now inappropriate, but because women feel empowered to call it what it has always been - a violation of our bodily autonomy by powerful men."
The incidents between Biden and his four accusers were reportedly not captured on camera, as of this writing. However, other images of Biden appearing to inappropriately touch women in public, such as in the above photo, have gone viral as visual representations of his supposedly "creepy" behavior. It must be noted, though, that the woman in the above photo, Stephanie Carter, does not believe Biden was touching her inappropriately.
"Last night, I received a text from a friend letting me know that picture was once again all over Twitter in connection to Lucy Flores’ personal account of a 2014 encounter with Joe Biden," Carter wrote in a post on Medium titled "The #MeToo Story That Wasn’t Me," which was published last Sunday. "The Joe Biden in my picture is a close friend helping someone get through a big day, for which I will always be grateful."
As right-wing trolls gleefully spread misleading images of Joe Biden on the internet, it's important to be cognizant of what's a visual example of inappropriate touching from Biden that some people might find offensive, and what's a literal photo of Biden offending one of his accusers.