Sanders on Accusation Against Biden: ‘I’m Not Sure That One Incident Alone Disqualifies Anybody’

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) on Sunday said he is "not sure" whether one accusation against former Vice President Joe Biden is enough to disqualify him from running for president.

Sanders, who will be facing off against Biden in the Democratic primary, appeared on CBS's Face the Nation, where he was asked to respond to an accusation by Lucy Flores, a 2014 Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor in Nevada, who published an essay on Friday accusing Biden of walking up behind her, smelling her hair, and awkwardly kissing her head without her consent.

"Do you believe her? what do you make of this?" host Margaret Brennan asked.

"I have no reason not to believe Lucy and I think what this speaks to is the need to fundamentally change the culture of this country and to create environments where women feel comfortable and feel safe," Sanders said. "That's something we have got to do."

Brennan later mentioned how Flores believed that Biden's behavior is "disqualifying" and asked Sanders whether he agreed with this sentiment.

"I think that's a decision for the vice president to make. I'm not sure that one incident alone disqualifies anybody, but her point is absolutely right," Sanders said. "This is an issue not just for Democrats or Republicans, but the entire country has got to take seriously."

Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D., Ill.) on Sunday shared Sanders's opinion in regards to one allegation not being disqualifying.

"Certainly one allegation is not disqualifying, but it should be taken seriously," Durbin said.

Biden's office released a statement Sunday responding to the allegation.

"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 reads. "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."

This isn't the first time that Biden has gotten into the personal space of women. During the swearing-in ceremony of Defense Secretary Ashton Carter in 2015, Biden laid hands on the shoulders of Carter's wife, Stephanie, and whispered in her ear as Carter spoke about his new job. He also bestowed an unwanted kiss on the head of Sen. Christopher Coons's (D., Del.) daughter while greeting incoming members of the Senate and their families.

Biden is expected to announce his presidential bid sometime in April.