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Biden "touching" accusation spurs defense of former vice president

Biden denies inappropriate behavior
Biden denies inappropriate behavior 06:58

As former Vice President Joe Biden faces criticism that he had inappropriately touched a former Nevada assemblywoman, Lucy Flores at a 2014 campaign event, two people have come forward with their own stories defending him.  

Stephanie Carter, the wife of former Defense Secretary Ash Carter who served in the Obama-Biden administration, penned a personal essay on the website "Medium," in which she wrote that she wanted to "reclaim" the story of her own interaction with Biden, one that was photographed and deemed questionable by many who viewed the picture on social media. 

The photo, taken on February 17, 2015, showed Carter during her husband's swearing-in ceremony at the White House. Carter described the overwhelming moment as nerve-wracking, and said that Biden gave her a hug during the proceedings. Afterwards, Biden leaned in to tell Carter, "Thank you for letting him do this," and to offer his support. It was that moment, Carter writes, that was "misleadingly extracted from what was a longer moment between close friends -- sent out out in a snarky tweet."

United States Vice President Biden talks to Stephanie Carter, wife of new US Secretary of Defense in Washington
United States Vice President Joe Biden talks to Stephanie Carter (R) as her husband Ash Carter (not pictured) delivers his acceptance speech as the new Secretary of Defense at the White House in Washington February 17, 2015. Carter served as the deputy defense secretary, the department's number two position, from 2011 to 2013. Gary Cameron / Reuters

"His attempt to support me had become a joke and even more — supposed proof positive that he didn't understand how to respect women," Carter wrote. 

The picture has since re-circulated on social media in light of Flores' account of her encounter with Biden, in which she claims he kissed the back of her head without her consent. Carter said that while she "absolutely supports" Flores decision to "speak her truth" she maintains that the Biden she knows and was photographed in the situation in question "is a close friend helping someone get through a big day, for which I will always be grateful."

It's the same sentiment that Biden confidant Sen. Chris Coons said his daughter experienced after a similar swearing-in ceremony. A video of Biden swearing in his fellow Delaware Democrat to the Senate, flanked by his family, went viral in 2015 after his daughter Maggie made an uncomfortable looking face just as Biden kissed her on the head and whispered in her ear.

New Congress Senate
Vice President Joe Biden leans in to say something to Maggie Coons, next to her father Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., after Biden administered the Senate oath to Coons during a ceremonial re-enactment swearing-in ceremony, Tuesday, Jan. 6, 2015, in the Old Senate Chamber of Capitol Hill in Washington. Jacquelyn Martin / AP

While the image has also been deemed by Biden critics as inappropriate, Coons told the Washington Post that his daughter views the former vice president as more of a "grandfather figure." He said Biden was merely whispering "praise for her composure and offering to connect her with his own daughter so that they could talk about the challenge of having fathers in the political spotlight. She was not bothered," Coons said.

Flores' story comes as Biden prepares to make a final decision on whether or not to enter the 2020 Democratic presidential primary race. On Sunday, Biden said in a statement that he did not believe he ever "acted inappropriately," but vowed to listen to suggestions saying otherwise. 

The Biden team has issued a statement on Monday, condemning the so-called controversies as "insidious," and as "smears" and "forgeries" against the former vice president, carried out by "right wing trolls" looking to exploit the Biden family "for their own gain."

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