Though Joe Biden is polling well against the still-growing field of Democratic primary contenders, a storm is brewing over the former vice president’s potential 2020 candidacy. Last week, former Nevada state assemblywoman Lucy Flores recalled in a piece for New York magazine an incident in which the infamously handsy Biden approached her from behind, smelled her hair and kissed her on the back of her head. On Monday, a second woman, Amy Lappos, came forward, writing on Facebook that Biden “did something similar” to her while she was a congressional aide for Rep. Jim Himes (D-CT).
Conservatives are already seizing on the news. On Tuesday, the pro-Trump Great America PAC posted an ad highlighting other instances of Biden laying his hands on women and girls. Audio of Flores recounting her experience with Biden on CNN plays on top of the footage. Strewn through the minute-long spot are stock clips of children watching television, the idea being that Biden’s behavior is setting a bad example for the nation’s youth. “Our children are watching,” reads the copy at the end of the ad. “What example will we set for them?”
Our children are watching…
— Great America PAC (@GreatAmericaPAC) April 2, 2019
Biden has long been known for his physicality when interacting with female constituents, and it was inevitable that the issue would come into focus as he attempts to mount a presidential campaign in the heart of the #MeToo era. Though he recently made a joke about his how his “tactile” approach to politics could get him into trouble, it’s unlikely he’ll continue to make light of it now that it actually has.
Biden defended himself on Sunday. “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 wrote in a 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.”
Flores wasn’t satisfied. “He should apologize and acknowledge the way his behavior makes people feel — makes women feel,” she told HuffPost.
Great America PAC took the concept for its ad — and a good portion of the stock footage — from a 2016 Hillary Clinton spot pointing out Trump’s bullying tactics. Clinton’s ad, titled “Role Models,” features children watching footage of the future president inciting violence, bashing immigrants, mocking a disabled person and more. “Our children and grandchildren will look back at this time, at the choices we are about to make, the goals we will strive for, the principles we will live by and we need to make sure that they can be proud of us.”
Rolling Stone reached out to Great America PAC for comment, but did not receive an immediate response.