Joe Biden on Friday was anticipated to present his first public feedback on a sexual assault allegation that has roiled his presidential marketing campaign.
The presumptive Democratic nominee will seem on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” to handle the allegation by his former Senate staffer Tara Reade that he assaulted her within the basement of a Capitol Hill workplace constructing within the 1990s. His marketing campaign issued a press release in early April denying the allegation, and quite a few former Biden staffers have defended their boss in interviews.
Biden himself has but to face any questions or weigh in on the accusation, even because it’s taken on recent consideration this week after two of Reade’s associates stated she beforehand instructed them about components of her allegations.
Republicans apprehensive about President Donald Trump’s more and more precarious political standing are seizing on the allegation to painting Democrats as hypocrites who solely defend girls who allege wrongdoing towards conservatives. They’re digging in even though it may renew consideration on the a number of sexual assault allegations lodged towards Trump.
Democrats, in the meantime, are in a clumsy place of vigorously validating girls who come ahead with their tales whereas defending the person who might be their standard-bearer in what many within the occasion think about a very powerful election of their lifetimes.
Some within the occasion have been urging Biden to mount a extra forceful response to the allegation.
“The marketing campaign has issued statements, however he hasn’t issued any statements in his personal voice,” stated former Democratic Nationwide Committee Chairwoman Donna Brazile. “It’s not serving to, it’s simply damaging — not solely to the one who has come ahead, however it’s additionally damaging the candidate.”
Lis Smith, a prime strategist on Pete Buttigieg’s presidential marketing campaign, additionally referred to as on the Biden marketing campaign to talk up.
“These accusations haven’t been discovered to be credible, so it’s within the Biden marketing campaign’s curiosity to nip this within the bud instantly and do it rapidly,” she stated.
The November contest between Biden and Trump would be the first presidential race of the #MeToo period, which has led quite a few girls to return ahead with allegations of sexual assault. Trump has been accused of assault and undesirable touching by quite a few girls, allegations he denies.
Girls are a core constituency for Democrats, and Biden has a combined historical past. Whereas he wrote the Violence Towards Girls Act as a senator, he additionally got here below heavy criticism for his dealing with of Anita Hill’s Senate testimony within the 1990s. Simply earlier than he launched his 2020 marketing campaign, a number of girls accused him of undesirable touching, conduct for which he apologized.
Biden has pledged to choose a lady as a working mate, and the allegation has left these regarded as in rivalry in a troublesome spot.
Stacey Abrams, the previous Georgia Democratic governor candidate, stated, “I imagine Joe Biden,” citing a New York Occasions investigation that she stated exonerated him.
“Girls should be heard,” she stated, “however I additionally imagine that these allegations need to be investigated by credible sources.”
That echoed speaking factors issued by the Biden marketing campaign to surrogates final week that have been obtained by The Related Press. They pointed to investigations by The New York Occasions, The Washington Put up and the AP that discovered no different allegation of sexual assault and no sample of sexual misconduct.
On Thursday, Home Speaker Nancy Pelosi additionally defended Biden. Talking on CNN, she stated she was “happy with how he has responded,” at the same time as she acknowledged “it’s a matter that he has to take care of.”
Some Democratic donors and fundraisers say the problem has not come up in calls with occasion financiers. Others fear that it could possibly be used towards Biden, a lot as Hillary Clinton’s non-public e-mail server and the actions of the Clinton Basis have been wielded towards her by Trump.
Some, most notably girls, say they’re paying shut consideration to the allegations, which gave them pause.
Alex Sink, a donor and former Democratic nominee for governor of Florida, stated she was “not pleased” to learn in regards to the allegations towards Biden. Whereas she nonetheless plans to vote for him, she apprehensive his marketing campaign was too fast to categorically deny Reade’s story.
“They put themselves instantly out on a limb by saying, ‘It didn’t occur, we categorically deny it, it’s not true,’” Sink stated.
Some feminine Democratic operatives expressed issues the allegation is especially damaging as a result of it’s an indictment of Biden’s central marketing campaign rationale: that he offers an ethical counter to Trump and that the election is a “battle for the soul of America.”
“The stakes couldn’t be larger for defeating Donald Trump — however on the similar time, I believe we’ve got to use a constant commonplace for a way we deal with allegations of sexual assault, and likewise be clear-eyed about how Donald Trump will use these allegations within the common election marketing campaign,” stated Claire Sandberg, who labored as Bernie Sanders’ organizing director.
The silence from the Biden marketing campaign has given Republicans a gap on a problem that was, in 2016, extra fraught for the GOP, when Trump was requested to reply for the greater than two dozen girls who alleged various ranges of sexual assault and harassment. Senate Majority Chief Mitch McConnell instructed Fox Information on Thursday that Biden will “need to take part in releasing all the data associated to” the allegation, a stance he didn’t take when Trump confronted misconduct accusations.
The GOP argues Democrats aren’t being constant, pointing to aggressive questioning and protection of Supreme Courtroom nominee Brett Kavanaugh when he confronted an allegation of sexual assault.
Talking in regards to the allegation for the primary time on Friday, Trump stated Biden “ought to reply” earlier than continuing to criticize the therapy of Kavanaugh as “an absolute shame to our nation.”
Steve Visitor, a spokesman for the Republican Nationwide Committee, stated “the left, and their media allies, has one commonplace for Republicans and one other commonplace for Democrats like Joe Biden.”
“The double commonplace,” he stated, “is appalling.”