Lucy Flores, the first woman to accuse Joe Biden of "unsolicited touching," criticized the former vice president for making light of the allegations leveled against him by multiple women.
"It's clear Joe Biden hasn't reflected at all on how his inappropriate and unsolicited touching made women feel uncomfortable," Flores told CNBC on Friday. The remarks came shortly after Biden spoke to the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers where he repeatedly joked about being giving "permission to touch" two individuals at the Washington, D.C., event.
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"I just want you to know, I had permission to hug Lonnie," Biden quipped after embracing the union's president, Lonnie Stephenson, upon being introduced. "I don't know, man." Later, after calling a group of children to join him on the stage, Biden put his arm around a young boy and said "by the way, he gave me permission to touch him."
Flores told CNBC she felt Biden's attempts to "make light of something as serious as consent degrades the conversation women" are having in the #MeToo era.
The speech was Biden's first public appearance since Flores penned an essay in New York Magazine last week detailing his inappropriate behavior while she was a Democratic candidate for Nevada's lieutenant governorship in 2014.
"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. "I felt him get closer to me from behind. He leaned further in and inhaled my hair. I was mortified."
"He proceeded to plant a big slow kiss on the back of my head," Flores recounted. "My brain couldn't process what was happening. I was embarrassed. I was shocked. I was confused… I couldn't move and I couldn't say anything. I wanted nothing more than to get Biden away from me."
Since Flores's revelations, seven other women have come forward to disclose Biden's behavior made them uncomfortable. Biden has refrained from addressing the topic directly in the wake of the allegations. On Wednesday, Biden released a video promising to be more "respectful" of others personal space. The 76-year-old, however, did not offer apologize for his actions or acknowledge any wrong doing, apart from admitting that "social norms" have changed.