The Latest: Pelosi says Biden not disqualified from WH race
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on former Vice President Joe Biden (all times local):
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says women’s assertions that Joe Biden touched them inappropriately years ago are not a reason for the former vice president to abandon the idea of running for president.
The California Democrat says in brief comments to The Associated Press, “I don’t think that this disqualifies him from running for president, not at all.”
She declined to discuss why she felt that way. Pelosi has been a champion of the #MeToo movement opposing sexual harassment.
Pelosi spoke on a day when a second woman publicly described what she considered inappropriate behavior by Biden.
The former vice president and long-time senator is considering a run for the Democratic presidential nomination. He has said he doesn’t think he’s acted inappropriately, but says men should pay attention when women discuss their experiences.
Aides to Joe Biden are striking a more aggressive tone as the former vice president faces scrutiny over his past behavior toward women.
Biden spokesman Bill Russo is blasting “right wing trolls” from “the dark recesses of the internet” for conflating images of Biden embracing acquaintances, colleagues and friends with uninvited touching.
The move comes on a day in which a second woman has said Biden once touched her inappropriately. The allegation by Amy Lappos, a former aide to Democratic Rep. Jim Hines of Connecticut, followed an essay by former Nevada politician Lucy Flores, who said Biden kissed her on the back of the head.
Joe Biden is pushing back against comparisons of the former vice president’s embrace of women during official ceremonies and an allegation he touched a Nevada Democratic candidate without invitation.
Aides say specifically that an image of Biden with his hands on the shoulders of Stephanie Carter, the wife of former Defense Secretary Ash Carter, during his 2015 swearing-in was misleadingly used to bolster the claim by 2014 Nevada lieutenant governor nominee Lucy Flores.
Stephanie Ashcroft wrote in a Medium piece Sunday that “it is high time that I reclaim” the story, which she writes included Biden comforting her when she was nervous.
Biden says he does not recall Flores’ allegation in a Friday New York Magazine piece that he approached her from behind, touched her shoulders and kissed her head.
Former Vice President Joe Biden on Sunday defended his interactions with women, saying he doesn’t believe he’s ever acted inappropriately.
But a Nevada politician’s assertion that Biden’s kiss on the back of her head made her feel uncomfortable prompted some Democrats to question whether the 76-year-old is too out of step with his own party to run a successful 2020 presidential campaign.
The episode, recounted by Democrat Lucy Flores, highlighted an aspect of Biden’s persona that has been publicly known for years: the affectionate whispers, hugs and shoulder squeezes he has long doled out to women, often on camera and at high-profile public events. In a moment of national reckoning over sexual harassment and the treatment of women by powerful men.