Joe Biden's attempt to bury the hatchet with Anita Hill has ended up earning more problematic headlines for the newly declared third-time presidential candidate. A few weeks ahead of the release of his big, racially charged announcement video Thursday — in which he suggested President Trump defended white supremacists — Biden reached out to Hill to preemptively address what he knew would be an issue for him within his own intersectionality and #MeToo-focused party. She was "not satisfied," at all.
On the same day he announced his candidacy, Biden's team revealed that the former vice president had called Hill a few weeks earlier to express his "regret for what she endured" when he was chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee presiding over the confirmation hearings of then-Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas, whom she accused of sexual harassment. The phone call with Hill, The New York Times reported Thursday, "did not go how he had hoped."
"In a lengthy telephone interview on Wednesday, [Hill] declined to characterize Mr. Biden’s words to her as an apology and said she was not convinced that he has taken full responsibility for his conduct at the hearings — and for the harm he caused other victims of sexual harassment and gender violence," the Times reports.
"I cannot be satisfied by simply saying, 'I'm sorry for what happened to you,'" Hill told the Times. "I will be satisfied when I know there is real change and real accountability and real purpose."
Despite her dissatisfaction with Biden's attempt to reconcile the situation, Hill said she doesn't believe what he did 28 years ago is necessarily disqualifying now. However, she will not support him, she said, unless he calls the other women who were willing to testify in the hearing as corroborating witnesses. By only contacting her, she said, he created a "he said, she said" scenario. He also must apologize to the entire country for how he handled the hearing and the subsequent damage it caused, she insisted.
"The focus on apology to me is one thing,' she said. "But he needs to give an apology to the other women and to the American public because we know now how deeply disappointed Americans around the country were about what they saw. And not just women. There are women and men now who have just really lost confidence in our government to respond to the problem of gender violence."
Biden, she said, "set the stage" for the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who was accused without any corroborating evidence by Christine Blasey Ford of having tried to force himself on her at a party in high school — an incident which all the alleged witnesses she named either denied outright or said they had no knowledge about.
Hill also told the paper that she was troubled by the series of recent accusations of inappropriate touching by Biden.
Asked for comment about Hill's response, Biden's team said they would not offer any except their initial statement, which characterized the call as Biden having "shared with her directly his regret for what she endured and his admiration for everything she has done to change the culture around sexual harassment in this country."
Even before officially throwing his hat in the ring, Biden has consistently been the Democratic front-runner. Polls have also shown that he matches up well against Trump. A Morning Consult/Politico poll of nearly 2,000 registered voters conducted April 19-21 "found Biden leading the president by 8 percentage points in a hypothetical matchup, 42 percent to 34 percent," Morning Consult reported Wednesday. "Biden has a significant edge over Trump among women (17 points), millennials (22 points) and independents (10 points)." Biden currently has about a 6-point advantage of the second-place Democratic candidate, Bernie Sanders.