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May 20, 2019

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Flores calls Biden’s hugging jokes ‘incredibly disrespectful’

Biden

Michael Dwyer / AP

Former Vice President Joe Biden talks with officials after speaking at a rally in support of striking Stop & Shop workers in Boston, Thursday, April 18, 2019.

WASHINGTON — A Nevada Democrat who accused Joe Biden of touching her without permission says the former vice president has been "so incredibly disrespectful" by joking about the matter.

Lucy Flores leveled her criticism Monday on Fox News as Biden nears an announcement of his 2020 presidential campaign.

Flores, a former Nevada state legislator, said she wants to force a discussion of how powerful men treat women, even as she affirms that her recollections of a 2014 encounter with Biden don't involve touching of a sexual or violent nature.

"The basis of the behavior that I talked about was something much more serious than just a hug," Flores said on Fox, referring to her account that during a 2014 political event Biden touched her shoulders from behind, smelled her hair and kissed her head without permission.

"That is unprofessional, inappropriate behavior, no matter who does it," Flores added, saying that Biden and others have made light of his long history of openly affectionate behavior toward others, particularly women.

"We're talking about the fact that, as women, we have had to endure this kind of inappropriate behavior on behalf of powerful men certainly for as long as I've been alive — you know, forever," Flores said.

Biden has said he doesn't recall his meeting with Flores the same way that she does, and he has forcefully asserted that he's never touched anyone in a way he believed was inappropriate. But after accounts from Flores and other women, Biden released a video saying he would be "much more mindful" of personal space.

"Social norms have begun to change," he said in the video.

Within days, however, Biden was onstage at an electrical workers conference joking that he had "permission" to hug the union leader who introduced him. He later repeated the quip about a boy he invited onstage.

A Biden spokesman did not immediately respond late Monday night to Flores' most recent criticisms.