Sunday 18 August 2019

Inappropriate touching issue resurfaces as Joe Biden prepares to enter 2020 race

After the former vice-president joked about needing permission to hug people, accuser Lucy Flores said it was disrespectful.

Former vice president Joe Biden speaks at a rally (Michael Dwyer/AP)
Former vice president Joe Biden speaks at a rally (Michael Dwyer/AP)

By Associated Press Reporter

A Democrat who accused Joe Biden of touching her without permission says the former vice president has been “so incredibly disrespectful” by joking about the matter.

The row comes in the week when the former vice-president is expected to formally declare his candidacy for the White House.

Lucy Flores, a former Nevada state politician, levelled her criticism on Monday on Fox News

Ms Flores said she wants to force a discussion of how powerful men treat women, even as she affirms that her recollections of a 2014 encounter with Mr Biden do not involve touching of a sexual or violent nature.

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Mr Biden is expected to formally announce his White House bid this week (Niall Carson/PA)

“The basis of the behaviour that I talked about was something much more serious than just a hug,” Ms Flores said on Fox, referring to her account that during a 2014 political event Mr Biden touched her shoulders from behind, smelled her hair and kissed her head without permission.

“That is unprofessional, inappropriate behaviour, no matter who does it,” Ms Flores added, saying that Mr Biden and others have made light of his long history of openly affectionate behaviour toward others, particularly women.

“We’re talking about the fact that, as women, we have had to endure this kind of inappropriate behaviour on behalf of powerful men certainly for as long as I’ve been alive — you know, forever,” Ms Flores said.

Mr Biden has said he does not recall his meeting with Ms Flores the same way that she does, and he has forcefully asserted that he’s never touched anyone in a way he believed was inappropriate.

But after accounts from Ms Flores and other women, Mr Biden released a video saying he would be “much more mindful” of personal space.

“Social norms have begun to change,” he said in the video.

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Polls suggest Joe Biden is a strong contender for the Democratic Party’s nomination for the White House (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Within days, however, Mr Biden was on stage at an electrical workers conference joking that he had “permission” to hug the union leader who introduced him.

He later repeated the quip about a boy he invited on stage.

A Biden spokesman did not immediately respond late to Ms Flores’ most recent criticisms.

The largest firefighters union is preparing to formally endorse Mr Biden’s expected presidential run this week, with group leaders saying they will be “investing” heavily in the former vice president’s anticipated bid.

The board of the International Association of Fire Fighters will meet this week to vote on the endorsement.

They plan to announce it publicly early next week, if Mr Biden joins the race as planned.

Polls suggest Mr Biden, who served as vice president to Barack Obama, would be a strong performer in the Democratic primaries.

The primaries will determine who will be nominated by the party to challenge Donald Trump for the keys to the Oval Office in 2020.

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