Politics

Key Democratic women rally behind Joe Biden as he faces sexual assault allegation

Key Points
  • Multiple female politicians are throwing their support behind former Vice President and apparent Democratic nominee Joe Biden as he responds to a sexual assault allegation from 27 years ago. 
  • Both Stacey Abrams and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand said they support Biden when asked about the allegation. 
  • Hillary Clinton endorsed Biden on Tuesday.
Former House Democratic Leader and Democratic nominee for Governor Stacey Abrams meets with Georgia voters in Metter, Monday November 5, 2018.
Melina Mara | The Washington Post | Getty Images

Multiple female politicians are throwing their support behind former Vice President and apparent Democratic nominee Joe Biden as he responds to a sexual assault allegation from 27 years ago. 

Biden got votes of confidence from prominent Democratic women on Tuesday, including from New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, one of the first to call for former Minnesota Sen. Al Franken's resignation after allegations of sexual misconduct surfaced against him. 

Former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, who has openly pitched herself as a vice presidential pick, said in an interview with CNN Tuesday night that she believes Biden over Tara Reade, the woman who filed a complaint with D.C. police saying that Biden sexually assaulted her while he served in the Senate in 1993

"I believe that women deserve to be heard and I believe that they need to be listened to, but I also believe that those allegations have to be investigated by credible sources," Abrams said. 

"The New York Times did a deep investigation and they found that the accusation was not credible. I believe Joe Biden," she said, adding that he's "a person who's demonstrated that his love of family, his love of our community, has been made perfectly clear through his work as a congressional leader and as an American leader. I know Joe Biden, and I think that he is telling the truth and that this did not happen."

CNBC has reached out to Abrams' voting rights group, Fair Fight Action, for comment but did not immediately hear back. 

Biden's campaign has repeatedly denied the allegation, telling NBC News that it "absolutely did not happen."

Deputy campaign manager Kate Bedingfield told NBC in a statement, "He firmly believes that women have a right to be heard — and heard respectfully."

"Such claims should also be diligently reviewed by an independent press. What is clear about this claim: it is untrue," Bedingfield said.

Biden's campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment from CNBC.

Biden promised in March to select a woman as his running mate and Abrams has been vocal about her interest.  

In 2018, Abrams tweeted her support for Christine Blasey Ford, the woman who accused Supreme Court justice Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault. "I believe women, and I believe survivors of violence always deserve to be supported and to have their voices heard," Abrams wrote. 

Gillibrand said in a conference call with reporters on Tuesday that she believes the former vice president, who she said "has devoted his life to supporting women."

Reade "has come forward, she has spoken, and they have done an investigation in several outlets. Those investigations, Vice President Biden has called for himself. Vice President Biden has vehemently denied these allegations, and I support Vice President Biden," the New York senator said.

Gillibrand, who at one point competed against Biden in the 2020 race, endorsed him last month. On the debate stage in July, she grilled Biden for writing in an op-ed while he was a senator that women working outside the home would cause the "deterioration of a family" and were "avoiding responsibility."

Gillibrand was the first Democrat in the Senate to call on Franken to step down amid allegations of sexual misconduct from multiple women. More than two dozen Senate Democrats followed suit, and Franken quickly vacated his seat while denying most of the allegations against him. Some in the party later resented Gillibrand's outspoken condemnation of her colleague. 

Her office did not immediately return a request for comment. 

Hillary Clinton, the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee, endorsed Biden for president on Tuesday, adding to his level of support from top female Democrats.

Former Vice President Joe Biden, presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, left, speaks as Hillary Clinton, former U.S. secretary of state, listens during a virtual event seen on a smartphone in Arlington, Virginia, U.S., on Tuesday, April 28, 2020.
Andrew Harrer | Bloomberg | Getty Images

"I am thrilled to be part of your campaign, to not only endorse you but to help highlight a lot of the issues that are at stake in this presidential election," Clinton said Tuesday at a virtual town hall with Biden. 

Clinton has not yet addressed Reade's allegation against Biden, but Reade in a Fox News interview slammed her decision to endorse the former vice president.

"I voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016. I voted for her in the primary. I'm a lifelong Democrat. But yet, what I see now is someone enabling a sexual predator and it was my former boss, Joe Biden, who raped me," Reade said. 

"Hillary Clinton has a history of enabling powerful men to cover up their sexual predatory behaviors and their inappropriate sexual misconduct. We don't need that for this country. We don't need that for our new generation coming up that wants institutional rape culture to change."

When asked about Reade's allegations in interviews with reporters, both Sens. Kamala Harris and Amy Klobuchar, who are viewed as potential running mate picks, praised Biden and said they believe women have a right to be heard. But neither specifically said they believed Reade over Biden. 

As his campaign continues, some Democratic strategists are considering the fallout these allegations will have on Biden's election, Politico reported. Multiple other women have accused Biden of inappropriate and unwanted touching since he launched his campaign a year ago. 

"Will it change the impression of a particular voter who's making a binary choice between Joe Biden and Donald Trump?" said Christine Pelosi, the daughter of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the chair of the California Democratic Party Women's Caucus. "I don't think so."

Nancy Pelosi endorsed Biden on Monday. 

Allies of President Donald Trump, who will likely go up against Biden in November, have been using Reade's allegations against the former vice president, the Washington Post reported. But Trump himself has been accused of sexual assault by multiple women. 

He won the White House in 2016 despite the bombshell disclosure of an old "Access Hollywood" tape that revealed how he had bragged about groping women's genitals without their consent. The tape came to light weeks before the election.

Trump has also been publicly accused of sexually groping and harassing multiple women. One accuser, the writer E. Jean Carroll, claims in a civil defamation lawsuit that he raped her in a department store dressing room in the mid-1990s. Trump has denied all allegations of sexual misconduct.

CNBC's Dan Mangan and Kevin Breuninger contributed to this report.