WASHINGTON (CNN) — In his first statement following the allegations from former Nevada state assemblywoman Lucy Flores, former Vice President Joe Biden says “…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.” Previously there have only been statements from Biden’s spokesman.
“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. “If it is suggested I did so, I will listen respectfully. But it was never my intention.
“I may not recall these moments the same way, and I may be surprised at what I hear,” the former vice president continued. “But we have arrived at an important time when women feel they can and should relate their experiences, and men should pay attention. And I will.”
“I will also remain the strongest advocate I can be for the rights of women. I will fight to build on the work I’ve done in my career to end violence against women and ensure women are treated with the equality they deserve. I will continue to surround myself with trusted women advisers who challenge me to see different perspectives than my own. And I will continue to speak out on these vitally-important issues where there is much more progress to be made and crucial fights that must be waged and won.”
Flores wrote about her allegations in an essay for The Cut, an arm of New York magazine, saying the encounter with Biden occurred sidestage during a November 2014 event when she was the Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor of the state.
The piece includes a photo of Biden and Flores, along with actress Eva Longoria, before the encounter Flores alleges took place.
“I felt him get closer to me from behind. He leaned further in and inhaled my hair. I was mortified,” Flores wrote, adding that she wondered why the then-vice president had come that close to her. “He proceeded to plant 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.”
Flores continued: “I couldn’t move, and I couldn’t say anything. I wanted nothing more than to get Biden away from me.”
Her account comes as Biden is considering a bid for president in 2020. He is expected to announce his decision as soon as April.