In Defying the Odds, we discuss the early stages of the 2016 campaign, when many candidates were unknowns. The update -- just published --includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms. We are now in the early stages of the 2020 race.
“Joe is his own worst enemy. He’s a very bright guy, very good values. But he just — he can’t keep his mouth shut or his hands to himself.”
Mr. Biden has faced accusations from multiple women who came forward to complain that his penchant for close physical contact made them feel uneasy. Rival Democrats demanded that he account for his treatment of the women, and President Trump lobbed taunts that offered a preview of how he might attack Mr. Biden in a 2020 general election.
It was a multiday crisis that seemed entirely foreseeable, given that Mr. Biden’s physical touching occurred over many years, often in public. But despite almost five decades in the political arena, Mr. Biden, 76, did not have an agile, fully staffed campaign in place to confront it.
He issued three statements and one online video attempting to explain his conduct, only to joke about the issue in a speech to a union conference Friday. Afterward, he gave an ambivalent response to reporters who asked if he was sorry, acknowledging that he would have to change his behavior but apologizing only for the fact that he “didn’t understand more” about the implications of his conduct.
Mr. Biden showed no evident regret about his wait-and-wait-some-more strategy, explaining coyly that he would “give everybody else their day, then I get a shot.”
But Mr. Biden’s eventual announcement now seems fated to fall in the shadow of the recent allegations and the progressive concerns he has so far declined to address. Far from remaining above the fray, Mr. Biden will enter the campaign as bruised as any of the 16 other candidates already in the race.