Biden denial of sexual assault claim sees mixed response from Dem strategists
The former chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee and Fox News contributor, speaking soon after the former vice president for the first time publicly addressed sexual assault allegations, said she thought that the presumptive Democratic nominee responded “in a forceful way.”
Several other Democratic strategists joined Brazile in that assessment, though others — particularly those aligned with Bernie Sanders, his one-time rival for the nomination — remained unconvinced that the party’s presumptive presidential nominee has settled the issue.
At the least, Biden has met calls from some of those same strategists and other groups to personally address the controversy after weeks of silence, during which he relied on his campaign to issue denials. Biden — in a statement early Friday morning and an ensuing interview on MSNBC’s ‘”Morning Joe” — repeatedly denied the sexual assault allegation leveled against him by former Senate staffer Tara Reade that supposedly took place 27 years ago.
“They aren’t true. This never happened,” Biden said in his statement. And later he emphasized in the TV interview that “unequivocally, it never, never happened and it didn’t. It never happened.”
Brazile – a longtime political consultant and analyst who’s a veteran of numerous Democratic presidential campaigns and managed Vice President Al Gore’s 2000 campaign – compared Biden’s response to that of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who two years ago faced multiple sexual assault allegations during his confirmation hearings in front of the Senate.
“I believe that the message is clear that when women come forward, they should be allowed to tell their story. But I also believe in due process. Just like Justice Kavanaugh had his time before the Senate, Joe Biden had his opportunity today to address it head-on,” Brazile told Fox News.
Longtime Democratic consultant Lis Smith — a veteran of President Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign and the 2016 Martin O’Malley campaign who was one of the political masterminds behind Pete Buttigieg’s surge in the 2020 Democratic presidential primaries — told Fox News that “Joe Biden did what anyone accused of sexual misconduct should do: take the hard questions and tackle the issue head-on.
“Putting aside the fact that the accusation against him is full of inconsistencies and has not been found to be credible, Biden comprehensively and forcefully denied the charge in a way that should satisfy the American people,” Smith said.
She warned that “if Republicans and Biden opponents push too hard on this, it will backfire on them and just raise the question of why President Trump has never addressed the scores of sexual misconduct allegations against him.”
Republicans, though, are hammering Biden and those supporting him for an alleged “double standard,” arguing that they are essentially giving him a pass when they did not do the same for Kavanaugh.
But the approach indeed poses a risk for Republicans too. The president’s been accused by at least 18 women of sexual misconduct – which range from unwanted touching to sexual assault – during purported incidents occurring between the late 1980s up until 2013. Trump has repeatedly denied the allegations.
Brazile said that “the Republicans are gleeful in trying to create a false narrative about Joe Biden at a time when you have a president who has his own challenges – more importantly – a president who has not stood up for women coming forward.”
In his statement, Biden also spotlighted that “April was Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Every year, at this time, we talk about awareness, prevention, and the importance of women feeling they can step forward, say something, and be heard. That belief – that women should be heard – was the underpinning of a law I wrote over 25 years ago. To this day, I am most proud of the Violence Against Women Act.”
But Biden’s statement and interview aren’t flying with some on the left, including some prominent backers of Sen. Bernie Sanders, who was the former vice president’s last remaining 2020 primary rival before dropping out of the race recently and backing Biden. They calling for a Democratic nomination reboot.
Peter Daou, a prominent progressive strategist, activist, and blogger who backed the Vermont populist’s White House bid, took to Twitter to write “I want to beat Trump. You do too. I believe we win with a candidate who doesn’t have a documented history of touching women without consent. (I said it a year ago.)”
“My plan to win is restart the primary with former candidates who want to run,” he proposed. “What’s yours?”
Krystal Ball – a political pundit, Hill.TV host and major Sanders supporter – tweeted “Dear Democrats, You don’t have to do this. There is still plenty of time to make a different choice than Joe Biden.”