Joe Biden

Impact of Sexual Assault Allegation on Joe Biden's Campaign

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Presidential campaigns are always grueling, but for Joe Biden, the past few months have been particularly challenging.

"It's really hard to break through during a pandemic when you're working from your basement," said UMass Boston Professor Erin O'Brien.

Biden is finally getting some headlines, but on a topic he'd rather not talk about — allegations of sexual assault from a former aide, Tara Reade, who worked in Biden's Senate office in the early 90s.

"The campaign has been very clear from the very beginning that the story isn't true," said Biden supporter Steve Kerrigan.

Kerrigan says the campaign has encouraged the press to dig in, saying any woman's allegation needs to be heard and researched — a stark contrast from the way Kerrigan says Donald Trump has handled his two dozen accusers.

"Rather than trying to disparage or to talk down about anybody in this circumstance, they are encouraging transparency and openness," he said.

But O'Brien says the Biden allegation gives Trump and his supporters an easy attack line while also providing the president with cover.

"Donald Trump is going to treat this as, you know, 'We both have done things with women we shouldn't have, so that's off,'" she said.

Perhaps worse for Biden is the pressure he is getting from progressives and women's rights activists to address Reade's allegations personally and fully.

"It's sort of the worst-case scenario for his campaign," O'Brien said.

The Biden campaign is confident that voters, who know Biden well, will be skeptical, given his longtime support of women's rights, equal pay and the Violence Against Women Act.

"He has stood up, time and again," Kerrigan said. "He'll continue to do that as president."

Still, in the post-#MeToo era, many feel Biden needs to do more to put the allegations of sexual assault behind him.

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