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.

Just Posted

7th annual Invermere Music Fest

A snapshot of the festival

Elk River reclaims property as its own

Laws make it harder to protect private land than ever before says farmer, local government

Need cash to splash

Radium Sunrise Rotary Club wants to build a splash park in Radium Hot Springs

Kootenay National Park about to turn 100

Ninety-nine years of publicly-accessible wilderness

Kootenay Conservation Program develops online conservation tool

Online toolkit for Kootenay-based services and programs

Trudeau to meet with U.K. and Japanese prime ministers ahead of G7 summit

French President Emmanuel Macron, this year’s G7 host, has little expectations of a unified front from the leaders

Thousands cycle to conquer cancer

The 11th annual Ride to Conquer Cancer took place Saturday morning, Aug. 24 in Surrey, B.C.

PHOTOS: Brazil military begins operations to fight Amazon fires

Amazon fires have become a global issue, escalating tensions between Brazil and European countries

Racist confrontation in Richmond parking lot caught on camera

Woman can be heard yelling racial slurs, swear words at woman in apparent parking dispute

Groups ready campaign to help young voters identify ‘fake news’ in election

The media literacy campaign to focus on identifying misinformation and suspicious sources online

Big rally in northern B.C. draws attention to continuing lumber crisis

Mayor Joan Atkinson says about 400 workers have been directly affected by the closure of the Canfor mill

Orangeville Northmen take Minto Cup at Langley Events Centre

Swept best-of-five series 3-0 over Victoria Shamrocks

Expanded support to help B.C. youth from care attend university still falling short

Inadequate support, limited awareness and eligibility restrictions some of the existing challenges

Ethnic media aim to help maintain boost in voting by new Canadians

Statistics Canada says new Canadians made up about one-fifth of the voting population in 2016

Most Read