The ladies of The View are defending Joe Biden against Lucy Flores’s claim that the former vice president made her feel uncomfortable by touching both of her shoulders and kissing her on the back of the head at an event five years ago.
“You know, Joe Biden’s presidential campaign hasn’t even officially begun and people are trying to knock him out of the running,” Whoopi Goldberg began at the top of the show. “Former Nevada politician Lucy Flores claims that Biden was out of line when he campaigned for her back in 2014.”
Goldberg tossed to a clip of Flores detailing the alleged inappropriate encounter to CNN’s Jake Tapper. (“It was shocking because you don’t expect that kind of intimate behavior… from someone so powerful and someone who you just have no relationship whatsoever,” Flores said. “So I frankly just didn’t even know how to react. I was just shocked. I felt — I felt powerless.”)
“Now, should she have spoken to him about this before she went on television about it?” Goldberg asked the panel, explaining that “in the old days we would call Joe… a little overly familiar.”
“Joe is a hands-on kind of guy,” Goldberg continued. “But I’ve never heard anyone — and she says she felt violated and I have to take her at her word, but it would have been nice if she turned to him and said, ‘You know what, I don’t really like this,’ or ‘Mr. Vice President, I’m not really comfortable with this,’ something because she’s standing right there.”
“It’s hard to say to somebody sniffing your hair,” Joy Behar interjected.
“No, it’s not. If somebody touches you inappropriately — ” Goldberg replied, before Behar added, “It wasn’t, that’s the point.”
McCain clarified that Flores has said her experience with Biden does not rise to the level of sexual assault and that the woman doesn’t even consider this a #MeToo moment.
“It does not rise to any of those things,” Goldberg said.
Behar agreed, adding, “It’s a long way from smelling your hair to grabbing your hoo-ha… We all know Joe Biden, he’s been here. I remember when I met him in Florida before he was vice president and he was so friendly. He’s a close talker… I feel it would be really unfortunate if we got rid of everybody who was just an affectionate kind of person. Those are nice people, too.”
“He’s also been in public office for about 50 years of his life,” Abby Huntsman chimed in. “I do wonder if she could have sent him a letter, right? Send him a personal note to say, ‘Hey this happened a few years ago, now I feel confident in telling you about it. I don’t want to make this public.’ I always wonder when these things come out, what is the motive for this person? Is it simply to let people know I was uncomfortable, which you could have done in private? Or is it because you maybe want someone else to win and you want him to have doubts about actually announcing for president?”
Huntsman continued, “I’ve had concerns about the #MeToo movement from the beginning, about getting to this place where you can’t have normal interactions with each other… are we going to get to a place where we can’t shake hands, where we can’t hug each other? I worry about that. I do.”
Sunny Hostin was the only one who felt “in the middle” on the topic, acknowledging the “power dynamic” between Flores and Biden could have prevented her from saying something in the moment. “You’re talking about the vice president of the United States, she was running for lieutenant governor,” Hostin explained. “She may not have wanted to offend him and I know a lot of women get put in that kind of situation where they’re offended, they’re uncomfortable, but they may not say anything. I do appreciate his response to the criticism.”
In a statement, Biden responded, “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. If it is suggested I did so, I will listen respectfully… 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.”
Hostin added, “[Joe’s] saying I will listen. I don’t know if we’ll see any more smelling of hair and kisses on the forehead.”
“That pisses me off,” Goldberg stated. “I don’t want Joe to stop doing that.”
“I don’t either,” Meghan McCain said in agreement. The co-host, who is close with Biden, went on to call him a “retail politician that loves people” like her father, the late Senator John McCain, and Bill Clinton. When Biden visited The View, McCain remembers him being “the only politician other than my father to go into the crowd and shake everyone’s hand.”
“I do agree women should be heard,” McCain continued. “I worked at Fox News during the Roger Ailes time. There’s a very big difference between things like that and things like this… Joe Biden is a good, decent man. He has never made me feel uncomfortable once. I’ve been around him a lot.”
McCain pointed out that Flores admitted to Jake Tapper that “politics was definitely the impetus” in her decision to come forward. “[Lucy] was a Bernie Sanders supporter in 2016, she was just seen at a Beto O’Rourke events… if she’s a Bernie or Beto person maybe she feels more inclined now, I don’t know. All I’m saying is I vouch for [Joe’s] character in my personal experience.”
Goldberg jumped in for some last thoughts.
“My point is, I want women to get to the place where they can say, ‘Hey, you just made me uncomfortable.’ This idea that you have to tiptoe away from this, you don’t have to carry it. If someone makes you uncomfortable, tell them. He came down to do you a favor. He came down to do you a favor. He was at your fundraiser. You had every right to say, ‘Don’t do that, Joe.'”
Goldberg added, “Don’t sit and wait and say I’m uncomfortable on national television, ’cause it makes us suspect of your thoughts.”
McCain agreed, exclaiming, “Honestly, Whoopi, you and I will probably get heat over this.”
“I get heat all the time, that’s all right,” Goldberg replied. “I’ve been a woman a long time and my mother said if you’re not comfortable, you tell them to stop. She instilled that in me and I’m trying to share it with you.”
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