When asked by CNN’s Jake Tapper what she would say to critics who accused her of being “politically motivated” in her decision to speak out about Joe Biden’s inappropriate behavior, former Nevada assemblywoman Lucy Flores said: “I would say politics was definitely the impetus.”
In her response, Flores upended the script that women are expected to follow, one in which they must play defense against cynical, sexist attacks that insist women come forward against powerful men for fame or personal gain. Instead, Flores, a former candidate for Nevada’s lieutenant governor, said she told her story at precisely this moment because Biden is now considering running for president. Addressing his behavior with women should be part of that vetting process. It is, in other words, absolutely political.
“The reason why we’re having these conversations about Vice President Joe Biden is because he’s considering running for president,” she said. “And frankly, the reason why I felt so compelled to say something was because, over the years, as this behavior was documented, as it frankly was dismissed by the media and not taken seriously, that conversation was not coming up in the discussions.”
In an essay published in The Cut last week, Flores revealed that during a 2014 campaign event, the then-Vice President invaded her personal space by creeping up behind her, planting “a big slow kiss” on the back of her head, and smelling her hair. “My brain couldn’t process what was happening. I was embarrassed. I was shocked. I was confused,” she wrote. The incident, she continued, “shows a lack of empathy for the women and young girls whose space he is invading, and ignores the power imbalance that exists between Biden and the women he chooses to get cozy with.”
Biden has a history of creepily cozying up to women and whispering in their ears. For years, this behavior was mocked and meme-ified, but ultimately it was dismissed as Biden being an eccentric, avuncular man. “I think really speaks to the fact that when behavior isn’t considered ‘serious enough’ for society, for America, it’s very easy to dismiss it,” Flores told Tapper. “Never do I claim that this rises to the level of sexual assault or anything of that nature. What I am saying is that it is completely inappropriate... and that is something that we should consider when we are talking about the background of a person who is considering running for president.”
Biden responded to the allegations on Sunday saying that: “We have arrived at an important time when women feel that they can and should relate their experiences, and men should pay attention, and I will.” But for Flores, this doesn’t go far enough.
“I want him to change his behavior I want him to acknowledge that it was wrong,” she said, “And I want this to be a bigger discussion about how there is no political accountability structure within our political space, either for instances in which women feel that there was inappropriate behavior, or more serious allegations of sexual assault.”
“We are not protected in politics,” she said. “And frankly, on a much larger scale, we also need to have a conversation about powerful men feeling that they have the right to invade a woman’s space whenever they like. This really is about women feeling like we have agency. If we don’t want you to touch us, then don’t touch us.”