Senate Minority Leader Chuck SchumerChuck SchumerOvernight Health Care: US showing signs of retreat in battle against COVID-19 | Regeneron begins clinical trials of potential coronavirus antibody treatment | CMS warns nursing homes against seizing residents’ stimulus checks Schumer requests briefing with White House coronavirus task force as cases rise Schumer on Trump’s tweet about 75-year-old protester: He ‘should go back to hiding in the bunker’ MORE (D-N.Y.) responded Tuesday to two women’s allegations that former Vice President Biden inappropriately touched them, saying “the voters will weigh the pros and cons” of each 2020 candidate.
Schumer praised the women for coming forward, but said it will ultimately be up to voters to judge the stories for themselves should Biden announce his presidential campaign later this month as expected.
“First, everyone deserves to be heard, so I salute the women who have come forward to tell their stories. When asked about candidates running, I’ve always said they should run if they want to and then the voters will weigh the pros and cons and decide for themselves,” the New York Democrat said at a press conference Tuesday.
Biden was hit with a pair of allegations in recent days that he inappropriately touched women while he was vice president.
Lucy Flores first came forward last week that Biden approached her from behind, smelled her hair and kissed the back of her head at a 2014 political rally in Nevada while she was running to be the state’s lieutenant governor. Amy Lappos followed a few days later saying Biden inappropriately rubbed noses with her at a 2009 fundraiser in Greenwich, Conn.
Neither women said they believed the contact was sexual in nature, but that they nevertheless felt uncomfortable. The two allegations a led to a resurfacing online of multiple older pictures of Biden touching women in ways that some suggested was inappropriate.
“Not once — never — did I believe I acted inappropriately,” Biden said in a statement Sunday. “If it is suggested I did so, I will listen respectfully. But it was never my intention.”
A Biden spokesperson released a lengthy statement Monday saying that the interactions were being misinterpreted, laying much of the blame at the media’s feet.
House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiTrump on collision course with Congress over bases with Confederate names Black lawmakers unveil bill to remove Confederate statues from Capitol Pelosi: Georgia primary ‘disgrace’ could preview an election debacle in November MORE (D-Calif.) addressed the allegations earlier Tuesday, saying Biden, who many former colleagues described as touchy-feely but not inappropriate, should adopt a more hands-off approach in future interactions.
“I’m a member of the straight-arm club. … I just pretend that you have a cold and I have a cold,” Pelosi said during a public interview with Politico. “I’ve known Joe BidenJoe BidenHillicon Valley: Biden calls on Facebook to change political speech rules | Dems demand hearings after Georgia election chaos | Microsoft stops selling facial recognition tech to police Trump finalizing executive order calling on police to use ‘force with compassion’ The Hill’s Campaign Report: Biden campaign goes on offensive against Facebook MORE a long time. My grandchildren love Joe Biden. He’s an affectionate person — to children, to senior citizens, to everyone, that’s just the way he is.”
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“I don’t think it’s disqualifying,” she added, noting several sexual assault allegations still lingering over President TrumpDonald John TrumpSenate advances public lands bill in late-night vote Warren, Democrats urge Trump to back down from veto threat over changing Confederate-named bases Esper orders ‘After Action Review’ of National Guard’s role in protests MORE.
Several Democrats running for president in 2020 have also praised the women for coming forward with their allegations and expressed some concerns over Biden’s interactions. None of them have yet said the claims should disqualify Biden from running for president.