Stephanie Carter says Joe Biden's viral picture of him touching her shoulders is 'misleading'
Former defense secretary Ash Carter's wife, on Sunday, sought to 'reclaim' the often-mocked picture of her with Biden and called it 'misleadingly extracted.'
The wife of former Defense Secretary Ash Carter, Stephanie Carter, defended former vice president Joe Biden on Sunday as he faced increasing scrutiny over his public display of affection with women after an allegation of inappropriate conduct. The issue came to light after a picture of Biden and Stephanie Carter went viral where the former vice president appears to be smelling her hair.
Carter, in Sunday, sought to "reclaim" the often-mocked picture of her with Biden and called it "misleadingly extracted." The controversial picture was taken at the White House in February 2015 during Ash Carter's swearing-in ceremony to head the Pentagon. The picture was, however, clicked when the former vice president was whispering into her ear as his hands rest on her shoulders.
However, Nevada politician Lucy Flores said that the scene captured in the picture looked familiar to her, alleging that Biden leaned in to smell her hair and plant an "awkward kiss" on the back of her head at a Las Vegas rally five years ago. Flores, at the time, was a Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor, according to Politico.
Flores claims, in an essay published in The Cut, have brought scrutiny over Biden's perspective 2020 presidential candidacy and raised new concerns among Democrats over his handsy interactions with voters and government officials across his period of public service.
This was an incredibly difficult thing to do, but something that felt necessary. It took awhile before I found the words and the support that made me feel like this was finally a story I could tell. https://t.co/Sr5Go3xuTe— Lucy Flores (@LucyFlores) March 29, 2019
Biden, later, released a statement defending his actions, saying he never believed he acted inappropriately.
"In my many years on the campaign trail and in public life, I have offered countless handshakes, hugs, expressions of affection, support and comfort," Biden said 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."
Carter, in a blog post published on Medium, wrote that Biden’s display of affection toward her in 2015 was appreciated, as she was “uncharacteristically nervous” after slipping on ice after she arrived at the Pentagon earlier in the day.
"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,” Carter wrote. “But a still shot taken from a video — misleadingly extracted from what was a longer moment between close friends — sent out in a snarky tweet — came to be the lasting image of that day.”
Carter also wrote that she and her husband had known Biden and his wife Jill "for many years, long before he had become vice president" and expressed her condolences to the couple over the coverage of the particular incident by the media. “I 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,” Carter wrote. “I thought it would all blow over if I didn’t dignify it with a response. But clearly that was wishful thinking.”
Carter also wrote that while she does not know Flores, she supports “her right to speak her truth,” adding that Flores and “all women” should be believed.
“But her story is not mine. The Joe Biden in my picture is a close friend helping someone get through a big day, for which I will always be grateful,” Carter wrote. “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.”