Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. scrambled on Sunday to contain a quickly growing crisis for his likely presidential bid, putting forward several former female aides and allies to praise his treatment of women after Lucy Flores, a former Nevada legislator, accused Mr. Biden of kissing and touching her.
Mr. Biden also issued a sweeping statement acknowledging that he had shown “expressions of affection” to people during his years on the campaign trail, but said, “not once — never — did I believe I acted inappropriately.” It was the second damage-control statement to come from his team since Ms. Flores made her allegation on Friday, and it was released minutes before she appeared on CNN and argued that Mr. Biden’s behavior with her at a 2014 campaign event was “disqualifying” for a presidential candidate.
Yet even as Mr. Biden defended himself, and his former staff members praised his conduct as a boss, some of the former vice president’s would-be rivals in the 2020 Democratic field and some allies said that Ms. Flores’s claim should be taken seriously.
“I have no reason not to believe Lucy,” Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” Asked if the allegation should disqualify Mr. Biden from running for president, Mr. Sanders said: “I think that’s a decision for the vice president to make. I’m not sure that one incident alone disqualifies anybody.” (Ms. Flores endorsed Mr. Sanders for president in 2016.)