Biden To Make First Public Appearance Since Women Started Coming Forward

during commencement for the United States Coast Guard Academy in New London, Conn., Wednesday, May 22, 2013. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)
FILE - In this May 22, 2013 file photo, Newly commissioned officer Erin Talbot, left, poses for a photograph with Vice President Joe Biden during commencement for the United States Coast Guard Academy in New London, ... FILE - In this May 22, 2013 file photo, Newly commissioned officer Erin Talbot, left, poses for a photograph with Vice President Joe Biden during commencement for the United States Coast Guard Academy in New London, Conn. As former Vice President Biden's camp scrambles to contain any political damage over his past behavior with women, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has some words of advice: Keep your distance. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill) MORE LESS
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WASHINGTON (AP) — In countless conversations over the past year, former Vice President Joe Biden, his advisers and his broad network of friends and family have openly discussed the vulnerabilities he would face if he ran for president. A voting record that is sometimes at odds with the Democratic Party’s leftward shift. His age. And the affectionate brand of politics that has made him beloved by many Democrats and a target of Republicans for years.

What Biden likely didn’t expect was to be confronting those issues so fully before even launching a campaign.

On Friday, Biden will make his first public appearance since several women began recounting encounters with him that left them uneasy. The first was Nevada politician Lucy Flores , who said she was uncomfortable when Biden kissed her on the back of the head backstage at a 2014 campaign event. Her account was countered by scores of women — from prominent lawmakers to former Biden staffers — who praised him as a warm, affectionate person and a supportive boss.

It’s unclear whether he will address the situation in his remarks to the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. He said in a cellphone video released Wednesday that he understood “social norms have begun to change” and “the boundaries of protecting personal space have been reset.”

Biden allies insist the eruption has done little to slow down planning for a 2020 campaign. Barring the unforeseen, he is expected to announce his candidacy, perhaps online, after Easter and immediately embark on a trip to early voting caucus and primary states. Those stops would be followed by a ceremonial kickoff.

Advisers say they are working to build out a robust campaign staff, including operatives in Iowa and South Carolina, states that are seen as key to his path to the nomination. Women are being considered for key roles, including senior strategist and deputy campaign manager, according to advisers, who insisted on anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the planning publicly.

Biden’s sister, Valerie Biden Owens, has long been one of his most trusted political confidantes. His daughter, 37-year-old Ashley Biden, who has largely kept a low profile during his political career, may also take on a more prominent role. She has quit her job as a social worker, fueling speculation.

But the past few weeks have laid bare the challenges Biden would face. Some women’s groups have balked at his attempts to apologize for his role overseeing the Senate hearings in which Anita Hill accused Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment. UltraViolet, the women’s advocacy organization, said its message to Biden was “Do better. Do better for women.”

Biden was also broadly panned following reports that he was considering asking 2018 Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, a 45-year-old African American woman, to be his running mate during the Democratic primaries. Abrams herself brushed back the speculation by saying she thought a woman or a minority would be the Democratic Party nominee in 2020.

Speaking to MSNBC on Thursday, Abrams offered support for Biden and said Democrats shouldn’t “have perfection as a litmus test.” But in a sign of the volatility that could be ahead for the Democratic field, Abrams said she doesn’t expect to decide whether to launch a presidential bid of her own until the fall, just months before primary voting begins.

The rush of attention on Biden’s behavior with women has been particularly intense, raising questions about whether his hugs and shoulder squeezes are simply out of a different era or a new front in the MeToo movement that has put a spotlight on the actions of powerful men.

“It feels so much like some of the other Me Too stuff that’s been floating around, that I’m afraid he might get tarred with that brush whether or not it’s really warranted,” said Mike Waggoner, a 70-year-old Democrat from Waterloo, Iowa. “This is such a sensitive area and an important area, I’m afraid it could just take him out.”

As the scrutiny has intensified, Biden has kept the counsel of a small group of advisers who have been with him for years. The team appeared to respond slowly to Flores’ assertions, first releasing a brief statement from a spokesman, then a longer statement from Biden himself about 36 hours later. Four more days passed before the former vice president’s video response was released.

“It is a really difficult period before you announce when you are nonetheless a target,” Axelrod said. “You’re not wholly in a position to respond and yet you have to, and so that may account for the halting way in which this unfolded.”
___

Beaumont reported from Des Moines, Iowa. AP writer Alexandra Jaffe in Waterloo, Iowa, contributed to this report.
___

Follow Julie Pace at http://twitter.com/jpaceDC and Thomas Beaumont at http://twitter.com/tombeaumont .

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  1. Avatar for bdtex bdtex says:

    I thought he would announce his candidacy this week. Doing so at a union event would be a nice touch.

  2. I’ll check Joe off my list as a possible as soon as he says:

    “When you’re a star they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.”

    “I did try and f**k her. She was married," he said on the tape. "I moved on her like a bitch, but I couldn’t get there. And she was married. Then all of a sudden I see her, she’s now got the big phony tits and everything. She’s totally changed her look.”
    Remember tRump was married and wife had recently given birth.

    Yea, let me know when that happens AND let me know when tRump will be held accountable for what he said and did here:

    The 23 women who have accused Trump of sexual misconduct

  3. Avatar for jinnj jinnj says:

    Joe - yes, you are still sharp - yes, you have the best interests of the nation at heart - but right now you are 76 years old - you will be 78 at your inauguration - and yes, I have no doubt that you could lace up the gloves, step into a ring and gloriously beat the snot out of that puffy clown Trump (I’d buy tickets) … but you do not have to - and you do not have to willing walk into the relentless character assaults that will be launched at you - you can do more good mentoring others .

  4. Obviously, his appearance in Georgia did not go well:

  5. Now of course more people will be paying attention to Biden, curious about what he will say from here on out. I’m wondering if this “scandal” actually boosted his possible run.
    Guess we’ll see.

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