Former Defence Secretary's wife says photo of her with Joe Biden was misinterpreted: 'as the sole owner of my story, it is high time that I reclaim it'

  • Lucy Flores, a Democratic politician from Nevada, came forward last week with allegations that former Vice President Joe Biden touched her inappropriately.
  • Flores’ story has brought renewed attention to other instances in which Biden has gotten too close to or acted touchy-feely with women.
  • For instance, a 2015 photo shows Biden standing behind Stephanie Carter, the wife of former Defence Secretary Ashton Carter, with his hand on her shoulder and whispering into her ear during her husband’s swearing-in ceremony. The incident was described as “creepy.”
  • In a Medium post published on Sunday, Carter wrote that the photo was misleading and actually depicted a moment between close friends.
  • “The Joe Biden in my picture is a close friend helping someone get through a big day, for which I will always be grateful. So, as the sole owner of my story, it is high time that I reclaim it – from strangers, Twitter, the pundits and the late-night hosts,” Carter wrote in the post.

Stephanie Carter, the wife of former Defence Secretary Ashton Carter, spoke out on Sunday to defend Joe Biden in light of recent accusations that he acted inappropriately toward former Nevada Assemblywoman Lucy Flores.

Flores, a Democratic politician from Nevada, detailed the incident in a New York Magazine piece published last Friday. She alleged that the former Vice President smelled her hair and inappropriately kissed her neck during a campaign event in 2014. She was 35 years old at the time.

“I felt him get closer to me from behind. He learned further in and inhaled my hair. I was mortified,” Flores wrote in the op-ed. “He proceeded to plant a big slow kiss on the back of my head. My brain couldn’t process what was happening. I was embarassed. I was shocked. I was confused.”

The recent allegations have cast doubt on whether Biden should consider a 2020 presidential run and sparked renewed attention over other instances in which he has gotten too close to or acted overly touchy-feely with women, some of whom appear uncomfortable.


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Joe Biden’s ‘awkward’ interactions with women resurface following allegations of inappropriate touching

For instance, Flores’ story bears similarities to a four-year-old viral photo that depicts Biden standing closely behind Carter, with his hand on her shoulder, and whispering into her ear during her husband’s swearing-in ceremony. The moment was described as “extremely odd” and “creepy,” and she looks visibly uneasy in the photo, which at the time unleashed a media frenzy.

But, according to Carter, that wasn’t the case.

In a Medium post titled “The #MeToo Story That Wasn’t Me” published over the weekend, Carter wrote that the photo actually depicted a close friend offering support to help quelch her nerves. She wrote that she slipped on ice earlier that day in a moment that “a few journalists were nice enough to tweet about.” Upon arriving at the White House for her husband’s swearing-in, she was “feeling self-conscious and tentative” about the incident.

“By the time then-Vice President Biden had arrived, he could sense I was uncharacteristically nervous – and quickly gave me a hug,” Carter wrote. “After the swearing in, as Ash was giving remarks, he leaned in to tell me ‘thank you for letting him do this’ and kept his hands on my shoulders as a means of offering his support.”

She added that she and her husband had known Biden and his wife, Jill, for a number of years and that in the aftermath of the media’s coverage of the incident, she “told them I felt awful that after he had generously taken time out of his day to swear in an old friend, his attempt to support me had become a joke and even more – supposed proof-positive that he didn’t understand how to respect women.”

In response to the recent allegations, Biden said that he never intended to make Flores feel uncomfortable.

“In my many years on the campaign trail and in public life, I have offered countless handshakes, hugs, expressions of affection, support and comfort,” he said in the statement. “And not once – never – did I believe I acted inappropriately. If it is suggested I did so, I will listen respectfully. But it was never my intention.”

In Carter’s post, she acknowledges that she doesn’t know Flores but “I absolutely support her right to speak her truth and she should be, like all women, believed.”

“But her story is not mine,” she added. “The Joe Biden in my picture is a close friend helping someone get through a big day, for which I will always be grateful. So, as the sole owner of my story, it is high time that I reclaim it – from strangers, Twitter, the pundits and the late-night hosts.”

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