By Ethan Johnson
Former Vice President Joe Biden has become the next public figure to face allegations of inappropriate behavior with women. In total, 4 women have come forward claiming that Biden made them feel uncomfortable with unwanted physical contact.
The first to come forward, Lucy Flores, described an incident where Biden kissed her on the back of the head. "He leaned in and he was, like,right behind me on my body, and he leaned down, smells my hair, and then plants this big, long kiss on the top of my head," she said.
Another woman later came forward, Amy Lappos, who told a story of when Biden gave her an unwelcome eskimo kiss in 2009. “He put his hand around my neck and pulled me in to rub noses with me. When he was pulling me in, I thought he was going to kiss me on the mouth," she told the Hartford Courant.
Other women also came forward citing incidents where Biden made them feel uncomfortable. The latest accusations came from 22 year-old former college student Caitlyn Caruso and 59 year old writer DJ Hill, reported by the New York Times. Caruso claims that Biden placed his hand on her thigh at an event three years ago despite her squirming. She also says that he hugged her for “just a little bit too long.”
Mrs Hill said that Biden put his hand on her shoulder and started dropping it down her back until her husband intervened. She said that the incident which took place at a fundraising event in 2012 made her “very uncomfortable.”
On Wednesday, Biden released a video defending his actions but also stating that he will be more mindful of people’s boundaries in the future. “I want to talk about gestures of support that I’ve made to women and some men that have made them uncomfortable. I’ve always tried to make a human connection. That’s my responsibility, I think. . . . It’s the way I’ve always been. It’s the way I try to show I care about them and listening,” Biden said in his video. “The boundaries of protecting personal space have been reset. I get it. I get it. I hear what they’re saying and I understand it. I’ll be much more mindful. That’s my responsibility and I’ll meet it.”
Opponents of Biden including President Donald Trump were quick to criticize him for his actions. On Thursday, Trump tweeted a video which depicts Biden’s explanation but edited to have a second Biden place his hands on Biden’s shoulders. Trump’s supporters have also done their part in condemning Biden with one group releasing a “Creepy Joe” ad.
Others came to Biden’s support including the wife of the former Defence Secretary Ashton Carter, Stephanie Carter who said that a picture of Biden with his hands on her shoulders has been used misleadingly. She told The Medium, "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."
The daughter of the late senator John McCain, Meghan McCain also came to the defense of Biden talking about his kindness and thoughtfulness.
Many of Biden’s accusers claim that his actions should disqualify him from a presidential run. Speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, however disagrees saying, “I don't think it's disqualifying.” She later added that "He has to understand in the world that we're in now that people's space is important to them, and what's important is how they receive it and not necessarily how you intended it."
Many of the Democratic Candidates for the 2020 presidential election have been asked about the situation. When asked if Biden should be disqualified from running for president, senator Elizabeth Warren said, “That is their decision about whether or not to run, and it will be up to Democratic voters whether or not to support someone.”
Senator Bernie Sanders said that women being respected in the workplace should not be a partisan issue. “It is not acceptable that when a woman goes to work or is in any kind of environment that she feels anything less than comfortable and safe, and this is an issue the entire country has got to work on,” he said.
Biden has not confirmed whether or not he will be running in the 2020 presidential election but many think that the former vice president would have a strong chance of winning.