Speed Reads

#MeToo or Not #MeToo

Joe Biden is pushing back gently against charges his 'expressions of affection' belong in the #MeToo sphere

Former Vice President Joe Biden responded Sunday to an allegation from former Nevada Assemblywoman Lucy Flores that he had put his hands on her shoulders and smelled then kissed her hair before a 2014 rally. In his "many years on the campaign trail and in public life," Biden said, "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." Biden is still expected to jump in the 2020 presidential race.

America has "arrived at an important time when women feel they can and should relate their experiences, and men should pay attention," Biden added. "And I will." The statement was released before Flores went on CNN to talk about her allegations, laid out Friday in an essay in The Cut. She told CNN's Jake Tapper that she wants Biden "to change his behavior" and "acknowledge that it was wrong," and said, "For me, it's disqualifying. I think it's up to everybody else to make that decision."

Flores, 39, told Politico on Sunday that she came forward because "when I started to see pictures of him behaving in the same way he did with me and with other women, it was very triggering," and "I felt so much empathy for them. I knew what they were going through."

On Sunday night, Stephanie Carter, one of the women frequently cited as suffering one of Biden's "expressions of affection," said that's exactly what it was. "Strangers, Twitter, the pundits, and the late-night hosts" should stop using "that picture" — taken during husband Ash Carter's swearing-in ceremony as defense secretary and recirculating again after Flores' accusation — to tar Biden, she wrote on Medium. "Joe Biden in my picture is a close friend helping someone get through a big day, for which I will always be grateful."