WASHINGTON — In countless conversations over the past year, former
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
“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.”
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
“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.
Follow Julie Pace at http://twitter.com/jpaceDC and Thomas Beaumont at http://twitter.com/tombeaumont .
Julie Pace And Thomas Beaumont, The Associated Press
Canadian Press NewsAlert: PHAC receives report of blood clot linked to AstraZeneca
OTTAWA — The Public Health Agency of Canada says it has received a report of an adverse event involving blood clots after someone in Canada received the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.
This is the first such reported case in Canada.
The federal agency says the person is now recovering at home.
The vaccine was the one produced at the Serum Institute of India, known as Covishield.
The Canadian Press
Biden raises concerns with Putin about Ukraine confrontation
President Joe Biden on Tuesday spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin, directly raising concerns about the Russian military buildup on Ukraine’s border.
Biden told Putin the U.S. would “act firmly in defence of its national interests” regarding Russian cyber intrusions and election interference, according to the White House. Biden also proposed a summit meeting in a third country “in the coming months” to discuss the full range of U.S.-Russia issues, the White House said.
The call comes amid a surge of cease-fire violations in eastern Ukraine, where Russia-backed separatists and Ukrainian forces have been locked in a conflict since Moscow’s 2014 annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula.
More than 14,000 people have died in fighting in eastern Ukraine, and efforts to negotiate a political settlement have stalled.
Western and Ukrainian officials have raised concerns about increasingly frequent cease-fire violations in the conflict area. Reports of Ukraine’s military casualties have been occurring daily over the past week, and rebels also have reported losses.
Aamer Madhani, The Associated Press
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