House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Monday shrugged off the idea that accusations of inappropriate conduct by former Vice President Joe Biden rule out a White House bid from the candidate currently leading many Democratic presidential polls.
On Friday, Lucy Flores, a former Nevada Assembly member and candidate for that state’s office of lieutenant governor, related in a published account that Biden touched her, sniffed her hair and kissed the back of her neck without her consent at a 2014 campaign event.
That triggered a series of comments about Biden’s oft-photographed close encounters with girls and women and a new allegation Monday by former congressional aide Amy Lappos that said Biden rubbed noses with her at a 2009 event in Connecticut.
Flores has said that in her mind, what Biden did disqualifies him from running for the White House.
Pelosi was asked Monday whether she agrees, The Hill reported.
“No. No, I do not,” Pelosi said.
“I don’t think that this disqualifies him from being president,” she said as she walked with a media pack trailing her. “Not at all.”
Biden also received support Monday from Meghan McCain, whose father, former Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain, served for many years in the Senate with Biden.
“Joe Biden is one of the truly decent and compassionate men in all of American politics,” she tweeted.
Joe Biden is one of the truly decent and compassionate men in all of American politics. He has helped me through my fathers diagnosis, treatment and ultimate passing more than anyone of my fathers friends combined. I wish there was more empathy from our politicians not less.
— Meghan McCain (@MeghanMcCain) April 2, 2019
Actress Alyssa Milano, a leading voice in the #MeToo movement, also stood by Biden in spite of the allegations. She said the former vice president “has been a leader and a champion on fighting violence against women for many years, and I have been fortunate to accompany him to events with survivors where he has listened to their stories, empathized with them, and comforted them.”
I am proud to call Joe Biden a friend. He has been a leader and a champion on fighting violence against women for many years, and I have been fortunate to accompany him to events with survivors where he has listened to their stories, empathized with them, and comforted them. pic.twitter.com/cI0jsKlu3P
— Alyssa Milano (@Alyssa_Milano) April 2, 2019
Stephanie Carter, the wife of former Defense Secretary Ash Carter, also came to Biden’s defense. A photo of Biden appearing to nuzzle up behind her during her husband’s 2015 swearing-in ceremony is among the images often used on social media to demonstrate Biden’s inappropriate behavior.
“The Joe Biden in my picture is a close friend helping someone get through a big day, for which I will always be grateful. So, as the sole owner of my story, it is high time that I reclaim it — from strangers, Twitter, the pundits and the late-night hosts,” she said in a post Sunday on Medium.
Carter explained that on the day her husband was sworn in, she had fallen on ice and hurt her neck, which compounded her nervousness about the event.
“By the time then-Vice President Biden had arrived, he could sense I was uncharacteristically nervous — and quickly gave me a hug,” she wrote. “After the swearing in, as Ash was giving remarks, he leaned in to tell me ‘thank you for letting him do this’ and kept his hands on my shoulders as a means of offering his support. But a still shot taken from a video — misleadingly extracted from what was a longer moment between close friends — sent out in a snarky tweet — came to be the lasting image of that day. …
“I thought it would all blow over if I didn’t dignify it with a response. But clearly that was wishful thinking. I won’t pretend that this will be the last of that picture, but it will be the last of other people speaking for me.”
In a medium post, Stephanie Carter says this viral screenshot capturing a moment between her and Joe Biden wasn’t a #MeToo
“A still shot taken from a video — misleadingly extracted from what was a longer moment between close friends.. ”
— Yashar Ali ? (@yashar) April 1, 2019
Biden at first deflected the Flores article by saying in a statement he did not share her recollection, but his spokesman, Bill Russo, followed up Monday by attacking “right wing trolls” who spread “smears and forgeries” across the “dark recesses of the internet.”
Forceful pushback from Team Biden not of @LucyFlores but of the license people are taking with photos out context. “These smears and forgeries have existed in the dark recesses of the internet for a while. And to this day, right wing trolls and others continue to exploit them” pic.twitter.com/naIqMf4ASs
— Mike Memoli (@mikememoli) April 1, 2019
“The Vice President has issued a statement affirming that in all the many years in public life that he has shaken a hand, given or received a hug, or laid his hand on a shoulder to express concern, support; or reassurance, he never intended to cause discomfort,” Russo said.
“He has said that he believes that women who have experience any such discomfort, regardless of intention, should speak and be heard, and that he will be among those who listen.
“But the important conversation about these issues are not advanced, nor are any criticisms of Vice President Biden validated, by the continued misrepresentation of the Carter and Coons moments, or a failure to be vigilant about a cottage industry of lies.”
The latter reference is to a video of Biden whispering in the ear of the 13-year-old daughter of Delaware Democratic Sen. Chris Coons before kissing her on the head.
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