As momentum builds around Tara Reade’s sexual assault allegation against Joe Biden, the left is struggling to find the will to support a candidate whose campaign has refused to acknowledge that the accusations were made, the New York Times reports.
A phalanx of powerful Democratic women have rushed to back Biden in recent days, with Stacey Abrams becoming the latest to declare that while women “need to be listened to,” she also believes Biden. But despite the outpouring of public statements made in his defense, many have expressed their reservations behind closed doors. According to the Times,
Privately, some female Democrats are growing frustrated with being put in the position of answering for Mr. Biden when he has remained silent, and male progressive leaders, even outspoken allies in combating sexual assault, have not been pressured to address this point.
Still, Biden aides have been telling allies that they don’t see the allegation resonating with voters in a potentially disastrous way:
They’re confident that the allegation will not shake voters’ perceptions of Mr. Biden’s character as a devoted father and husband, with family ties forged through deep tragedies. They also believe that voters will view the allegation with great skepticism.
But instead of confronting the accusation, the Biden campaign’s talking points instruct supporters to describe the candidate as “fierce advocate for women” who has never faced any “complaint, allegation, hint or rumor of any impropriety or inappropriate conduct.” They also add, inaccurately, that a Times investigation found that “this incident did not happen.”
While activists have been debating Biden’s best strategy, they’re in agreement that he needs to address the issue head-on:
“Joe Biden himself needs to respond directly,” said Yvette Simpson, the chief executive of Democracy for America, a progressive advocacy organization, which plans to back the Democratic nominee. “While it is absolutely essential that we defeat Donald Trump in November, trying to manage the response through women surrogates and emailed talking points doesn’t cut it in 2020 — especially if Democrats want to continue to be the party that values, supports, elevates, hears and believes women.”
Reade, for her part, is disappointed with Biden’s handling of the situation, saying the campaign had not contacted her. She previously said that it wasn’t politics that motivated her to come forward:
“Sexual assault and sexual harassment in the workplace is a huge gender, institutionalized problem in our country, and the fact that they are not addressing my allegations head-on and dealing with the corroborating evidence is simply a testimony to the hypocrisy,” she said. “There is no partisanship with sexual assault and harassment. It is an equal opportunity offender.”