by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Denied sexual misconduct claims against Joe Biden have splintered the Democrats, just as the party had started bridging divides exposed by a long, competitive primary.
After hiding behind campaign spokespeople, Biden, the presumptive 2020 Democratic presidential nominee, last week bowed to mounting pressure and publicly and directly refuted allegations made by Tara Reade, 56, against him.
But Biden’s vehement denial has failed to quiet discontent expressed by more liberal Democrats, particularly those once in Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’s camp, who don’t want a candidate marred with accusations similar to those leveled at President Trump last cycle.
Peter Daou, a veteran of Hillary Clinton’s 2008 and 2016 White House bids before joining Sanders’s 2020 team, has repeatedly reminded Democrats the primary isn’t over, given Biden, 77, has yet to clinch the 1,991 delegates needed to become the party’s next standard-bearer outright.
“THE DEMOCRATIC PRIMARY IS NOT OVER,” he tweeted. “Millions of voters have not yet been heard. Those who already voted did not know the details of the NINE sexual assault and/or harassment allegations against #Biden. Any former candidate can restart their campaign and the people can speak.”
New York Times opinion writer Elizabeth Bruenig distilled the argument in a piece called, “Democrats, It’s Time To Consider a Plan B,” which earned her both praise and rebukes online, including criticism from Neera Tanden, president of left-wing think tank Center for American Progress and a longtime Clinton confidante.
“For Democrats who worry that this situation is a means by which the hard left can relitigate a primary in which their preferred candidate lost, and thereby supplant the will of the voters, a Bruenig column like this is not going to be reassuring,” Tanden wrote.
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