Ahead of former Vice President Joe Biden launching his likely presidential bid, Nevada politician Lucy Flores has bravely spoken out about his inappropriate behavior. On Friday, in a New York magazine piece, Flores explained how a kiss changed her perception of Biden.
In 2014, she was the Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor in Nevada, and her chances weren’t looking too good. So when her team got a call from Biden’s office, she initially felt appreciative.
On the chaotic day – November 1, 2014, just days before the election – she was backstage with Biden. “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,” she wrote. “‘Why is the vice-president of the United States touching me?’”
“I felt him get closer to me from behind. He leaned further in and inhaled my hair. I was mortified. I thought to myself, ‘I didn’t wash my hair today and the vice-president of the United States is smelling it. Ad also, what in the actual fuck? Why is the vice-president of the United States smelling my hair?’ He proceeded to plan a big slow kiss on the back of my head. My brain couldn’t process what was happening. I was embarrassed. I was shocked. I was confused… I couldn’t move and I couldn’t say anything. I wanted nothing more than to get Biden away from me.”
After the incident, she felt uneasy, confused, and gross. Though she told some members of her staff what happened, she hoped to move on and push past it. But as she saw images of Biden surface where he got “uncomfortably close” with young girls and women, she knew how they felt. She could read the discomfort on their faces. Though Flores is now one of the most public voices to speak out against Biden, his behavior toward women isn’t new. There has been plenty of discussion about it on social media and several outlets have written articles about his unacceptable conduct. Knowing that he was likely to announce his candidacy, Flores decided to speak out.
And much like other women who speak out against powerful men, Flores has received her share of backlash. Plenty, such as MSNBC’s Mika Brzezinski, have rushed to his defense. Biden, himself, has spoken out since.
“In my many years on the campaign trail and in public life, I have offered countless handshakes, hugs, expressions of affection, support and comfort,” Biden said in a statement. “And not once – never – did I believe I acted inappropriately. If it is suggested I did so, I will listen respectfully. But it was never my intention.”
Flores – who also spoke out about the sexist behavior she encountered while working with Arturo Carmona, a former Bernie Sanders staffer – gave her first televised interview on Sunday. On CNN’s State of the Union, she said that his second response was better than his first, which stated that at the time, Biden didn’t have “an inkling that Ms. Flores had been at any time uncomfortable, not do they recall what she describes.”
Flores said that she’s “glad that he’s willing to listen” and “glad that he is clarifying his intentions,” but that it still doesn’t get to the root of the problem. “Frankly, my point as never about his intentions, and they shouldn’t be about his intentions,” she said. “It should be about the women on the receiving end of that behavior.”