FILE - In this Sept. 9, 2012, photo, then-Vice President Joe Biden visits with patrons over lunch at Cruisers Diner in Seaman, Ohio. Biden buddied up with bikers, posed for countless pictures at a pizza place and downed an ice cream cone at a Dairy Queen over the weekend as he toured Ohio. Biden loves Ohio. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)

Biden to make 1st appearance since complaints about behaviour

The past few weeks have laid bare the challenges Biden would face

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 Biden will address the situation in his remarks to the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. The 76-year-old 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 behaviour 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 MeToo 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.”

READ MORE: 2nd woman recounts unwanted touching by Joe Biden

READ MORE: ‘He hugs everybody’: Women divided over defence of Biden

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,” said David Axelrod, a longtime political adviser to President Barack Obama. “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.

___

Julie Pace And Thomas Beaumont, The Associated Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

QUIZ: How much do you know about British Columbia?

On this B.C. Day long weekend, put your knowledge of our province to the test

“How many more years is this going to continue?”: Kitimat resident wants better District response to front yard sinkholes

The sinkholes are caused by an aging storm sewer, which the District says they are working to fix.

In Our Valley: Louise Barbetti

Louise Barbetti has spent her life dedicated to the welfare of the Haisla students and community.

Rio Tinto Kemano T2 project restart plans in the works after temporary COVID-19 shutdown

The project excavation work has been shut down since late March for COVID-19 safety.

REVIEW: Catchpole’s writing style makes engineering more understandable for non-engineers

“A Story of the Engineering of the Kemano-Kitimat Transmission Line” is a fun and intelligent read.

VIDEO: Otter pups learn to swim at B.C. wildlife rescue facility

Watch Critter Care’s Nathan Wagstaffe help seven young otters go for their first dip

Alleged impaired driver sparks small wildfire near Lytton after crash: B.C. RCMP

Good Samaritans prevented the blaze from getting out of control

Travel restrictions inspiring co-operation in border communities

Small border towns are asking for exemption to travel ban

B.C. First Nation adopts ‘digital twinning’ software to better manage territory

Software allows users to visualize what a mountain might look like if the trees on its slopes were logged

All inquiry recommendations implemented after fatal Port Hardy RCMP shooting: Ministry

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. cleared the RCMP officers involved of wrongdoing

Leave your deets when dining: Restaurants taking personal info to trace COVID-19

Health officials say indoor dining presents a higher risk

Raptors kneel for both American and Canadian anthems ahead of tipoff

Majority of players have substituted their names on the backs of their jerseys with racial and social justice messages

Wild’s Mathew Dumba makes anti-racism speech, kneels ahead of Blackhawks vs. Oilers

Matt Dumba, 26, took to center ice to speak on behalf of fellow members of the Hockey Diversity Alliance

Most Read