Liz Peek: Biden accused of unwanted kiss, may have kissed his chance for Dem nomination goodbye

Democrats just lost their lifeline.

Former Vice President Joe Biden, who was expected to rescue the party from the clutches of the progressive left, has emerged as Creepy Uncle Joe once again. This time, in our #MeToo era, serious damage has been done.

Lucy Flores, one-time member of the Nevada Legislature, wrote in a piece published Friday in New York Magazine’s The Cut about a disturbing 2014 encounter with Biden. Her article is headlined: “An Awkward Kiss Changed How I Saw Joe Biden.”

Biden had come Nevada to boost Flores’ run for lieutenant governor at a campaign rally, but as they waited to go on stage, she says he put his hands on her shoulders, breathed in the scent of her hair, and then planted a “big, slow kiss” on her head.

JOE BIDEN ACCUSED OF INAPPROPRIATE CONDUCT BY FORMER NEVADA DEM CANDIDATE

Yes, that was creepy.

“Why is the vice-president of the United States touching me?” Flores writes she wondered at the time.

For whatever reason, Flores’ story has made waves, creating a serious problem for those centrist Democrats who consider Biden their ace in the hole, their bulwark against the crazies like Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Sanders.

Flores, then 35 and struggling in a competitive race that she later lost, was mortified. She writes: “Biden was the second-most powerful man in the country and, arguably, one of the most powerful men in the world. He was there to promote me as the right person for the lieutenant governor job. Instead, he made me feel uneasy, gross, and confused.”

Like so many women, Flores was in equal parts embarrassed and angry; like so many others, she kept the encounter secret, until now.

She says that as she contemplated the possibility of Biden becoming president, she had to speak out. She knew that others had told of similar encounters with the former vice president; knowing he might ascend to the Oval Office, she could not stay silent.

New York Magazine approached Biden’s office about the story; the office declined to comment.

In a statement to Fox News, Biden spokesman Bill Russo said the former vice president “was pleased to support” Flores’s 2014 campaign “and to speak on her behalf” at the rally.

“Neither then, nor in the years since, did he or the staff with him at the time have an inkling that Ms. Flores had been at any time uncomfortable, nor do they recall what she describes,” the statement said. “But Vice President Biden believes that Ms. Flores has every right to share her own recollection and reflections, and that it is a change for better in our society that she has the opportunity to do so. He respects Ms. Flores as a strong and independent voice in our politics and wishes her only the best.”

What a nice pat on the head.

Flores’ story is a serious blow to Democrats. She is one of their own, not a Republican. True, she was a supporter of Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016. Some are already describing her claim about Biden as politically motivated.

But Flores’ credibility is enhanced (as she noted on Twitter) by the sheer volume of similar stories that have surfaced over the years. Biden has often been photographed getting overly cozy with women as he shares confidences and caresses their shoulders.

An especially awkward 2015 moment was caught on camera when Biden, holding her arm, leaned in to whisper in the ear of 13-year old Margaret Coons at her father Chris Coons’ swearing-in ceremony as a U.S. senator from Delaware; she visibly recoils when he plants a kiss on the side of her forehead.

Over the years, Biden has been given a pass on these uncomfortable moments; the press has cheerily portrayed them as “Joe being Joe,” in much the same vein as someone being excused for wearing loud plaids. Joe is folksy, cute, the guy you want to have a beer with. He is, after all, just being friendly.

No more. It’s highly likely that the Lucy Flores piece will invite other women to come forward with similar reminiscences. It’s also highly likely that this time, the inappropriate sexual gestures will not be tolerated or ignored.

Why will the liberal media take these stories seriously now? Some may speculate that progressive Democrats have decided that this is their moment, and they’ll be damned if they’ll let “moderate” Joe Biden interfere.

Or it may be simply timing. This year, as liberals pine for a female candidate who can finally break that final glass ceiling, nominating an overly affectionate white guy just seems so very, very wrong.

For whatever reason, Flores’ story has made waves, creating a serious problem for those centrist Democrats who consider Biden their ace in the hole, their bulwark against the crazies like Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Sanders.

As their party is pushed hard left by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and others, many Democrats fear they are leaving mainstream voters behind. They know the country is not ready for the Green New Deal, full-term abortions and open borders.

Though Biden recently described himself as the “most progressive candidate in the race” – before remembering that he had not yet entered the race – he is viewed as more moderate than most of those officially running.

To many, that makes Uncle Joe the candidate best able to beat President Trump. Polling shows that electability is a top consideration for Democratic primary voters.

Biden’s appeal stems from his popularity in the Rust Belt. The 2016 election outcome can be traced to blue-collar workers in states like Michigan and Wisconsin who traditionally voted Democratic but who defected to Trump.

Conventional wisdom has it that to regain the Oval Office, Democrats need to win back those workers and that Biden is the best candidate to reel them in.

Polling has Biden leading the field. A Quinnipiac Poll of Democrats and voters leaning Democratic Thursday shows Biden at 29 percent, with Sanders in second place at 19 percent support.

Democrats face an awkward choice. If they continue to back Biden, they forego the appealing prospect of hounding Donald Trump about past charges of sexual misconduct. A Biden candidacy would weaken their grip on women voters, who were critical to Democrats’ midterm victories.

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On the other hand, ditching Biden could leave them with a more progressive and polarizing candidate like Sanders.

Biden faces a choice as well. He could, in the wake of this embarrassment, choose not to run.

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