House Speaker Nancy Pelosi issued a warning to Joe Biden to adjust his touchy-feely behavior after a second woman came forward to accuse the former vice president of unwanted touching. On Sunday, a Connecticut woman accused Biden of rubbing his nose against hers without her consent at a 2009 fundraiser, an allegation she said she decided to make public after hearing a similar account from former Nevada legislator Lucy Flores.
Writing under the pseudonym Alice Paul — a reference to the suffragette and equal rights activist — the woman first shared the alleged incident on Sunday on the Facebook page of Connecticut Women in Politics. The woman, who has since identified herself as Amy Lappos, said she was volunteering at a political fundraiser in Greenwich for U.S. Rep Jim Himes when Biden approached her and a small group of other volunteers.
“It wasn’t sexual, but he did grab me by the head,” Lappos told the Hartford Courant on Monday. “He put his hand around my neck and pulled me in to rub noses with me. When he was pulling me in, I thought he was going to kiss me on the mouth.”
“I never filed a complaint, to be honest, because he was the vice president. I was a nobody,” she continued. “There’s absolutely a line of decency. There’s a line of respect. Crossing that line is not grandfatherly. It’s not cultural. It’s not affection. It’s sexism or misogyny.”
According to Pelosi, the accusations against Biden in no way “disqualify him from running for president.” But in light of the complaints made against him, she said, he should listen and learn to show greater respect for women’s personal boundaries.
“Join the straight-arm club,” she said on Tuesday. “”Just pretend you have a cold and I have a cold.”
Biden, she added, “has to understand that in the world we are in now, people’s space is important to them and what’s important is how they receive it, not necessarily how you intended it.”
In her Facebook post, Lappos said she was tired of people acting as though “the grossness of men invading women’s boundaries to sniff and touch is debatable.” If Biden really respected women, she said, he would step down from his 2020 presidential aspirations and “support one of the many talented and qualified women running,”
“Shame on some of the women here excusing this as boys being boys or it’s not as bad as Trump,” she wrote. “I can speak from experience when I say it’s an incredibly uncomfortable situation and not at all acceptable. We need to hold our men to the same standards we hold all men.”
A spokeswoman for Biden refused to respond specifically to Lappos’ allegations, and provided the same statement the former vice president first issued on Sunday after being accused of kissing Flores on the back of her head.
“In my 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,” the statement read. “If it is suggested I did so, I will listen respectfully.”