WASHINGTON (AP) – Former Vice President Joe Biden on Sunday defended his interactions with women and said he did not believe he had ever acted inappropriately. But a Nevada politician's assertion that Bid's kiss on the back of her head made her feel uncomfortable caused some Democrats to question whether the 76-year-old is also out of step with his own party for to run a successful 2020 presidential campaign.
The episode, which is told by Democrat Lucy Flores, highlighted one aspect of Biden's persona that has been publicly known for many years. He has long wiped out the loving whispers, hugs and shoulder clamps for women, often on camera and on high-profile public events. In a moment of national expense of sexual harassment and treatment of women by powerful men, some Democrats said that Bid's actions have taken a new light.
"It looks different in 2019," said Maria Cardona, a democratic strategist. Cardona said that while Bid's behavior does not automatically disqualify for the presidency, "it all depends on how he continues to respond to this. He must recognize that his behavior made some women unpleasant."
In a statement on Sunday, Biden was told that it was never his intention to make women feel uncomfortable, and if he did, I would listen with respect. "
Several women who worked for Biden went on the weekend to guarantee their character. And Stephanie Carter, wife of former Defense Minister Ash Carter, disputes characterizations of her interactions with Biden during her husband's difficulty ceremony. Vice President whispered in Carter's ear and laid his hands on her shoulders at some point. "" Joe Biden on my picture is a close friend who helps someone get through a big day for which I will always be grateful, "wrote Carter in a post on the Medium site
Flores & # 39; report on the 2014 event comes at a crucial time for Biden, struggling for months with a final decision on whether to run for president, blowing through more self-imposed deadlines Advisors now monitor a message later in April
But the democratic primary has spit without him with more than a dozen candidates including the record number of women and minorities. Veterans like Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders has shown surprising strength while newer white houses are hopeful like California Sen. Kamala Harris and Texan Beto O & # 39; Rourke has drawn large crowds and exhibited early fundraising pauses.
Biden still leads most early polls, buoyed by wide-name recognition and the good will he generated over eight years as President Barack Obama's No. 2. Due to his experience and appeal with white working class voters in Midwestern battlefields, He also by some Democrats as the best-placed candidate to defeat President Donald Trump.
Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden together over the years
Nancy Bobo, an Iowa activist who was among Obama's earliest state supporters, shares this view. She fears the episode with Flores suggesting that Democrats can try to tear their most qualified candidate.
"I can only see what's coming for him," Bobo said. "And it's going to come to him from the Democrats."
None of Bid's potential rivals defended him after Flores' allegations. Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren said she believed in Flores and that Biden "must answer" about what happened. New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand said, "Lucy Flores felt dimmed and it is never okay. If Vice President Biden becomes a candidate, this is an issue he will have to move on with." Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said, "I think it's important to listen and take seriously any event like this."
White House Adviser Kellyanne Conway said that Flores was "quite brave" to "go up to the highest levels of her political party" with the allegations and suggested that Biden should consider apologizing to Flores. Conway declined questions about the many women who have accused Trump of sexual abuse, claims he refuses.
Flores, a former Nevada state representative and the 2014 democratic candidate for Nevada lieutenant governor, told The Associated Press on Sunday that she had mulling coming up for years. She said she was approaching New York Magazine to publish her story and that the magazine had checked its piece after she had submitted it.
According to Flores, the episode with Biden occurred in 2014 as they waited to take the stage during 2014 a rally in Las Vegas.
"I felt two hands on my shoulders. I froze." Why does the US Vice President touch me? "" she wrote. "He continued to plant a big slow kiss on the back of my head."
Biden spokesman Bill Russo said the former Vice President does not remember kissing Flores.
AP attempted to contact several advisors and assistants from the Flores & # 39; 2014 campaign, but could not get any independent control of their account.
Flores, who approved Sanders in the 2016 campaign, said that Bid's team has not been in contact with her since her story was published. She said she would be happy if Biden simply recognized the discomfort the episode caused her.
Biden has been warned by advisers that his previous statements and actions, including his long history of hugging and showing love for women, would be exposed to fresh control in the 2020 campaign. In some cases, Bid's political attitudes, such as His support for the 1994 criminal offense, due to masses of minorities, ineffective with a party moved to the left. But in other moments, as he trains his ability to compromise with the Republicans, he may seem to be talking about a political era that many democrats no longer believe exist.
Karen Finney, a democratic strategist working at Hillary Clinton's 2016 campaign, said Biden's team had to answer a key question before launching a white house bid: "They feel confident to their ability to understand this voter and campaign by 2020, which is already different from 2016? "
Even before Flores made Her claims, some Democrats wondered if Biden was meant for this moment. His team was widely panned after reports that they are considering beating a younger democrat or a minority like the 2018 Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams as a running buddy early in the primary in an attempt to counteract Biden's age issues.
While Bid's team refused to consider this move, Biden floated the thought of Abrams over a recent lunch, according to a Democrat-aware discussion. The Democrat was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and insisted on anonymity.
Democratic strategist Rebecca Katz said that while Flores & # 39; descriptions may feel familiar to those who have seen Biden Kram and hold hands with women for years, she focuses on the women who were on the receiving end of his feelings.
"What Lucy Flores did so boldly says," That's how he made me feel, "Katz said." No one has ever done that before with Joe Biden. "