Update 9:25 a.m. EDT March 31: Former Vice President Joe Biden has issued a statement in response to an allegation form former Nevada assemblywoman Lucy Flores that he kissed her without her consent.
In response, Flores said on CNN’s State of the Union Sunday morning that the statement was an improvement from the one released Saturday.
“I’m glad he’s willing to listen. I’m glad that the is clarifying his intentions,” Flores said. “Frankly, my point was never about his intentions and they shouldn’t be about his intentions it should be about the women on the receiving end of that behavior and this isn’t the first time and it wasn’t the only incident where he was acting inappropriately with women. If he is saying he never believed that it was inappropriate, then, frankly, I think that’s a little bit of a disconnect and not being aware.”
Flores came forward as Biden is expected to announce a run for president. She made it clear that her allegations are not on the level of a sexual assault, but it was inappropriate.
“I want him to change his behavior and I want him to acknowledge it was wrong,” she said. “I want this to be a bigger discussion about how there is no accountability structure within our political space.”
“We also need to have a conversation about powerful men feeling that they have the right to invade a woman’s space whenever they’d like,” she added.
Original story: A former Democratic lawmaker from Nevada has accused former Vice President Joe Biden of kissing her head without her consent during her 2014 campaign for lieutenant governor.
In an essay published Friday in New York Magazine's The Cut, Lucy Flores, a former member of the Nevada State Assembly, said Biden approached her from behind, put his hands on her shoulders and kissed the back of her head before she spoke to supporters at a Nov. 1, 2014, campaign rally.
"As I was taking deep breaths and preparing myself to make my case to the crowd, I felt two hands on my shoulders. I froze. 'Why is the vice president of the United States touching me?'" Flores wrote.
"I felt him get closer to me from behind. 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."
Flores said she felt embarrassed and confused.
"I couldn't move, and I couldn't say anything," she wrote. "I wanted nothing more than to get Biden away from me. My name was called, and I was never happier to get on stage in front of an audience."
She later added: "I'm not suggesting that Biden broke any laws, but the transgressions that society deems minor (or doesn’t even see as transgressions) often feel considerable to the person on the receiving end. That imbalance of power and attention is the whole point – and the whole problem."
Biden's spokesman, Bill Russo, responded to the allegations in a statement.
"Vice President Biden was pleased to support Lucy Flores's candidacy for Lieutenant Governor of Nevada in 2014 and to speak on her behalf at a well-attended public event," the statement read.
"Neither then, nor in the years since, did he or the staff with him at the time have an inkling that Ms. Flores had been at any time uncomfortable, nor do they recall what she describes.
"But Vice President Biden believes that Ms. Flores has every right to share her own recollection and reflections, and that it is a change for better in our society that she has the opportunity to do so. He respects Ms. Flores as a strong and independent voice in our politics and wishes her only the best."
After a Saturday forum in Iowa, 2020 Democratic presidential candidates U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Julian Castro offered support for Flores, USA Today reported.
"I believe Lucy Flores, and Joe Biden needs to give an answer," Warren said.
"I believe Lucy Flores," Castro said. "I believe that the vice president put a statement out today on that. And we need to live in a nation where people can hear her truth."
Former U.S. Rep. John Delaney of Maryland and U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, who also participated in the candidate forum, said they haven't read Flores' article, according to USA Today.
Biden is reportedly mulling a 2020 presidential run but hasn’t officially decided.
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