Former Vice President Joe Biden offered an unexpected answer when asked Thursday what he would tell women who want to vote for him in 2020 but are feeling conflicted in light of a former staffer’s sexual assault allegation against him: “If they believe Tara Reade, they probably shouldn’t vote for me. I wouldn’t vote for me if I believe Tara Reade.”
Rather than trying to convince women to support him despite the allegation he assaulted Reade, then a Senate staffer in 1993, the ex-veep urged them to “vote their heart.”
Biden, who earlier this month said “unequivocally” the assault “never happened,” was asked by MSNBC host Lawrence O’Donnell whether he remembered Reade, who worked in his Senate office for about a year in the early 1990s.
“To be honest with you, I don’t,” the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee replied, adding: “When a woman makes a claim that she has been harassed or abused, and this claim has changed… she should come forward and be taken seriously and it should be thoroughly vetted. And in every case, what matters is the truth.”
He went on to say that while he doesn’t “want to question her motive,” he had “been vetted” when he ran as Barack Obama’s running mate in 2008 and that this “is just totally thoroughly completely out of character” for himself.
“The idea that in a public place in a hallway, I would assault a woman. I mean, anyway, I promise you, it never happened,” Biden concluded. “It should be vetted. She should be thoroughly looked at and whether or not this happened, look at the story. Follow the story line and determine whether there is any truth to it. And there is no truth to it, I promise you.”
Following Biden’s emphatic denial of her allegations, Reade told Megyn Kelly last week that “Joe Biden should take a polygraph,” adding that she would take one as well if he did. She also called for Biden to withdraw from his campaign and went into graphic detail about the alleged incident.
Three people have told several news outlets that Reade told them about some portions of either the alleged assault or harassment over the years. A recently unearthed 1996 court filing by Reade’s ex-husband also references “a problem she was having at work regarding sexual harassment, in U.S. Senator Joe Biden’s office.” The document, however, doesn’t say Biden committed the harassment.