Democrat Senator Dick Durbin said one allegation should not disqualify former Vice President Joe Biden from running for the presidency.
Durbin told NBC host Chuck Todd that the allegation “should be taken seriously” but “is not disqualifying,” the Washington Free Beacon reports.
“Quickly on 2020. Joe Biden, there’s an allegation that he was basically too—made some women feel uncomfortable by some ways that he acted around them. Are you concerned that Joe Biden can handle the onslaught of 2020? Do you think he should run?” Todd asked.
“I can tell you that Joe Biden is a friend and a seasoned veteran when it comes to political campaigns. I know nothing about the allegations that I also read this morning, as well. I think all of us should take such allegations seriously and with respect,” Durbin responded. “I took Joe Biden’s statement to say just that, exactly.”
“Yes, I think he’s ready if that’s his decision to move forward in this presidential campaign,” Durbin added via the Free Beacon.
The NBC host asked again whether or not the allegation should halt a prospective run: “This isn’t disqualifying?”
“Certainly one allegation is not disqualifying, but it should be taken seriously,” Durbin answered back.
The allegation against Biden emerged on Friday from Lucy Flores:
On Friday, a woman named Lucy Flores published an essay where she accused the former vice president of making her feel uncomfortable with inappropriate touching. Flores, who was running to be Nevada’s lieutenant governor in 2014 detailed how, when waiting to take the stage behind the scenes of a campaign stop, Biden began touching her without permission.
“As I was taking deep breaths and preparing myself to make my case to the crowd, I felt two hands on my shoulders. I froze. ‘Why is the vice-president of the United States touching me?'” Flores wrote.
Flores alleges that Biden smelled her hair and then kissed the back of her head.
Lucy Flores does not call her interaction with former VP Biden sexual harassment, instead saying it was "an invasion of my personal space … a clear invasion of my bodily autonomy to not be touched, unless I give you permission to touch it." pic.twitter.com/q72Od4KyfM
— Kasie DC (@KasieDC) March 31, 2019
ABC News adds:
“Biden came to Nevada to speak to my leadership and my potential to be second-in-command — an important role he knew firsthand. But he stopped treating me like a peer the moment he touched me. Even if his behavior wasn’t violent or sexual, it was demeaning and disrespectful. I wasn’t attending the rally as his mentee or even his friend; I was there as the most qualified person for the job.”
In the interview, Flores called the exchange “awkward and disturbing and weird.”
Durbin is seemingly taking a different approach to the allegation against his “friend” than how he treated Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
Kavanaugh faced allegations of sexual misconduct during his confirmation process, mostly from one accuser, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford.
Durbin said she was absolutely credible and Kavanaugh should be subject to an FBI investigation over the allegation, ABC News reports:
A top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee said the woman accusing Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault is “a credible witness” who has been subject to death threats since coming forward with her allegation.
“I think Dr. Ford has come forward understanding what she was going to face,” Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said of Christine Blasey Ford to ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos on “This Week” Sunday. “I think it really speaks to her credibility at this moment. What in the hell did she have to gain by doing this?”
“At this point, she’s faced death threats. Her family has been moved out of their home. They’re worried about the safety of their children. They’re worried about security at the hearing,” the Illinois senator said. “You know, when you take a look at this in honest terms, I believe that not only Judge Kavanaugh, but certainly Dr. Ford deserves a fair hearing.”
While Biden has yet to officially announce a presidential run, he is expected to do so and his team is meeting the allegation head-on, issuing a statement which read: “In 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.”
“If it is suggested that I did so I will listen respectfully. But it was never my intention,” the statement continued, via the Free Beacon. “I may not recall these moments the same way, and I may be surprised at what I hear. But 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.”
The Daily Caller reports a spokesperson from Biden’s office also said:
Neither then, nor in the years since, did he or the staff with him at the time have an inkling that Ms. Flores had been at any time uncomfortable, nor do they recall what she describes. But Vice President Biden believes that Ms. Flores has every right to share her own recollection and reflections, and that it is a change for better in our society that she has the opportunity to do so. He respects Ms. Flores as a strong and independent voice in our politics and wishes her only the best.