No matter how much Joe Biden may hope that Tara Reade’s sexual assault accusations against him might go away, it looks like the allegations are here to stay. Biden’s campaign team has prepared talking points, taking the tack that the allegations are false.
Buzzfeed News reports that, even though Biden hasn’t spoken about Reade personally, the campaign is taking the news seriously enough to put up a united front in denying the accusations.
“Biden believes that all women have the right to be heard and to have their claims thoroughly reviewed,” the talking points read, according to a copy sent to two Democratic operatives. “In this case, a thorough review by the New York Times has led to the truth: this incident did not happen.”
“Here’s the bottom line,” they read. “Vice President Joe Biden has spent over 40 years in public life: 36 years in the Senate; 7 Senate campaigns, 2 previous presidential runs, two vice presidential campaigns, and 8 years in the White House. There has never been a complaint, allegation, hint or rumor of any impropriety or inappropriate conduct like this regarding him — ever.”
Interestingly enough, the campaign is hanging its denial on a New York Times piece that Team Biden claims disproved Reade. The trouble is that the article is inconclusive at best, neither disproving nor proving the allegations against Biden.
It’s also worth noting that the statement repeats the “believe all women” mantra that the Democrats used as a canard against Brett Kavanaugh. It’s characteristic of the dilemma the party finds itself in with Biden as its standard bearer. In the era of #MeToo and “believe all women,” Reade’s assertion that then-Senator Biden treated her less than respectfully is problematic and deserves more than just a dismissal.
Let’s be honest: Biden may not have had other allegations against him that equal what Reade says happened, but he doesn’t exactly have a reputation as a “safe” companion to women. There’s his reputation for standing a little too close to women, especially from behind, and the hair-sniffing thing that’s laughable, if not downright creepy. Biden’s treatment of women has long given a weird impression, and there’s plenty of photographic and video evidence that he makes women uncomfortable.
The Biden campaign is also highlighting the candidate’s record on women’s rights, particularly highlighting his work on domestic violence legislation. It’s a strategy that could work; after all, look at the pass that Bill Clinton has gotten for decades. (Don’t forget that, even with all the accusations against Clinton, reporter Nina Burleigh said she would be willing to, um, pleasure Clinton for his stance on abortion.) There’s probably a large enough contingent among the Democrats who are willing to give Biden a pass too, or at least to unquestioningly repeat the talking points that the Reade incident didn’t happen.
There’s another interesting phenomenon about the Biden-Reade situation: Reade is finding support on both the right and the far left. Reade first spoke publicly this year on a left-leaning podcast, and the left-wing media (who mostly believe that Biden isn’t progressive enough) began circulating the story. Then there’s the conservative media who are willing to use any ammo to dent Biden’s reputation.
At the end of the day, Reade’s accusation carries enough weight and credibility to require more than just a brushoff from the campaign. Whether or not you believe Reade, she has enough credibility to warrant more conversation. She’s far more credible than Christine Blasey Ford and other Kavanaugh accusers, and look how much traction those false claims had with the Democracts.
How much damage Reade’s allegations can do to the Biden campaign remains to be seen, but right now it appears that Team Biden isn’t scared enough of her.