Biden bids to quell storm over campaign trail kiss
WASHINGTON- Agence France-Presse
Former vice president Joe Biden insisted on March 31 he has never acted inappropriately towards women as a growing row about a kiss on the campaign trail cast a shadow over his expected run for the White House.
The 76-year-old Biden is the clear favorite to win the Democratic nomination to take on Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election even though he has yet to declare his candidacy.
But several of his rivals have now weighed in on the allegations from a former state lawmaker who has recalled being "mortified" when Biden planted a "big, slow kiss" on the back of her head on the sidelines of a rally in Nevada five years ago.
The New York Post on March 30 ran a gallery of photographs of Biden's "most touchy-feely moments," embracing and kissing women at public events over the years.
His 39-year-old accuser Lucy Flores said in a new television interview that Biden's behavior meant he should not run for president shortly after Biden released a statement trying to quell the storm.
"In my many years on the campaign trail and in public life, I have offered countless handshakes, hugs, expressions of affection, support and comfort. And not once- never- did I believe I acted inappropriately," Biden said in his statement released by his spokesman on Twitter.
"If it is suggested that I did so, I will listen respectfully. But it was never my intention.
In response to Biden's statement, Flores said she was "glad he's willing to listen" but added that his behavior should rule him out from seeking the Democratic nomination against a president who has himself faced multiple accusations of sexual harassment.
"For me, it's disqualifying," she told CNN.
"Yes, of course, I want him to change his behavior. And I want him to acknowledge this was wrong."
Biden has previously acknowledged that his "tactile" behavior could land him in trouble, especially in the #MeToo era which has already torpedoed the careers of several US politicians, including the former Democrat Senator Al Franken.