Biden Joins a Crowded Field for White House

Tam Nguyen, Specials Editor

After months of teasing and hinting at a campaign, former Vice President Joe Biden officially threw his hat into the ring on April 25th. Having served as a United States Senator for thirty-six years and as vice president under President Obama for eight years, Biden is seen by many as a candidate who has the political experience that the country needs.

As strong a candidate as he is, the former vice president still has a long way to go if he wants the Democratic Party’s nomination for  president.

One area that Biden must confront in his bid for the nomination involves questions about his controversial behavior over the years. Biden was recently accused by two women of initiating unwanted physical contact. The women, Lucy Flores, a former Nevada state assemblywoman and candidate for lieutenant governor, and Amy Lappos, a former congressional aide who now works freelance for nonprofit agencies, stated that they did not believe Biden’s behavior was a sexual advance, but that it nonetheless was “inappropriate” and caused them to feel uneasy.

In response to the allegations, Biden released a statement saying, “Not once – never – did I believe I acted inappropriately. If it is suggested I did so, I will listen respectfully. But it was never my intention.”

Several days later, however, Biden seemingly joked about the allegations at an event hosted by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. As he draped his arm around one of the children invited on stage, Biden said, “By the way, he gave me permission to touch him.”

The candidate has also been caught up in controversies surrounding his opposition to court-ordered busing to desegregate schools. In March 1977, Biden wrote a letter addressed to his fellow senators, says CNN Washington correspondent Jeff Zeleny in an article entitled “Letters from Joe Biden reveal how he sought support of segregationists in fight against busing.” The candidate called the court order “unnecessary” because there was “no evidence that the governmental officials intended to discriminate” in the letter. Zeleny also mentioned that Biden often asked for and received support from then-Mississippi Democratic Senator James Eastland, who was openly against desegregation, citing multiple letters Biden wrote to him asking and thanking him for his support for the anti-busing bill.

In 1982, Biden also showed support for a constitutional amendment through which states could overturn Roe v. Wade, according to senior correspondent Anna North’s article, “Why doesn’t Joe Biden just apologize?”

Additionally, there  have been numerous calls for the former vice president to apologize to Anita Hill, a professor at Brandeis University who, in 1991, accused U.S. Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas – now a Supreme Court Justice – of sexual harassment. As the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee in 1991, Joe Biden presided over hearings regarding Hill’s allegations, but never made any move to defend her from attacks made by republicans on the committee, nor call in additional witnesses whose testimony could have strengthened Hill’s.

Despite these recent issues and aspects of his past, Biden’s poll numbers are still surging upward. In a poll conducted by Hill-HarrisX just after Biden announced that he was running for President, forty-three percent of respondents who were registered voters said that they would pick Biden over President Donald Trump in an election compared to thirty-seven percent who picked Trump. Data from RealClear Politics also shows that Biden has been in the lead among other democratic candidates since December 2018.

As a “dealmaker-in-chief” in the White House, former Vice President Biden has been involved in a variety of policy areas including foreign policy, women’s rights, gun control, and same-sex marriage. Although he is commonly viewed as a competent, down-to-earth, and progressive politician, many of his decisions and actions as a senator have been controversial. While Biden currently sits at the top of the heap for democrats, there  is no telling whether he will ultimately emerge as the Democratic Party’s choice for president. For many, Biden’s behavior and approach will be closely scrutinized.