On Wednesday, former Vice President Joe Biden attempted to address the growing scandal over claims of his past “innappropriate touching” of women by issuing a video explaining that he has always been about making a “human connection” but assuring his supporters that he now “get[s] it”: “social norms” have “shifted” and he will change how he interacts with women accordingly. The next day, The Washington Post published three more accounts from three more women detailing times they say Biden crossed the line — bringing the total number of accusations to seven.
With high-profile Democrats taking positions on the growing scandal, one key voice has been glaringly absent: the man Biden can thank for being vice president for eight years. So where is Obama in the Biden debate?
According to The Hill‘s sources, we shouldn’t expect to be hearing publicly from Obama anytime soon, but we should assume he is still “standing behind” his former VP amid the growing list of accusers.
“President Obama thinks the world of him and thinks he’d be an excellent president,” a source The Hill describes as someone “close to Obama” told the outlet. The “infinite amount of time” Obama has already spent praising Biden’s character should be enough for people to know where he stands, the source suggested.
But if he’s so confident in Biden’s character, why won’t Obama simply say so publicly, rather than through surrogates? The Hill’s sources say this is just how Obama plans to operate for the Democratic primary, and Biden should undersand that well enough. “President Obama is not going to be weighing in on the primary and the day-to-day stories around it. And Joe Biden would be the first to tell you that he’ll have to earn the nomination on his own,” the source told The Hill.
While Obama is apparently going to remain in the shadows on the issue of Biden’s “creepy” behavior, some of the big names of the Obama administration are willing to go on the record for the former vice president, including former national security advisor Susan Rice and former senior advisor Valerie Jarrett, The Hill notes.
While some of Obama’s team are willing to put their necks out for Joe, several of those who expect to be contending with him for the presidential nomination are jumping on the opportunity to discourage him from jumping in, particularly California Sen. Kamala Harris, who has made sure to declare emphatically that she believes — and respects — the women.
“I believe them, and I respect them being able to tell their story and having the courage to do it,” the presidential hopeful told reporters Tuesday, Huffington Post reported. Asked if Biden should run for president, Harris put the burden on Biden. “He’s going to have to make that decision for himself,” she said. “I wouldn’t tell him what to do.”
In his video message Wednesday, posted amid mounting pressure to more directly respond to the accusations, Biden pledged to be “more mindful about respecting personal space” in the response to changing “social norms”: