Politics

CNN Contributor to Biden: ‘Quit While You’re Ahead’

A CNN contributor urged former Vice President Joe Biden (D.) to keep out of the 2020 race during a segment Monday, lest his behavior toward women sully his legacy.

Irin Carmon told the cast of CNN's "New Day" that the makeup of the Democratic Party was ill-disposed to making Biden president in 2020.

"The Democratic Party is animated right now by women," Carmon told hosts Alisyn Camerota and John Berman. "And the context is: Joe Biden's career of paternalistic attitudes and policies towards women, in the guise of protecting them, that he has even now into his seventies not interrogated."

Carmon is a senior correspondent at New York Magazine and the author of "Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg."

Biden authored the 1994 Violence Against Women Act.

In a story Friday, Biden stood accused of approaching a woman from behind, placing his arms on her, and kissing her neck.

Former nominee for Nevada lieutenant governor Lucy Flores (D.) accused Biden of the conduct at a 2015 rally. In an article in The Cut Friday, Flores described the then-vice president's behavior. "I felt him get closer to me from behind," she wrote. "He leaned further in and inhaled my hair. I was mortified."

Flores recalls thinking, "What in the actual fuck? Why is the vice-president of the United States smelling my hair?" She claims he "proceeded to plant a big slow kiss on the back of my head. My brain couldn’t process what was happening. I was embarrassed. I was shocked. I was confused."

In a statement, Biden denied any wrongdoing. "In my many years on the campaign trail and in public life, I have offered countless handshakes, hugs, expressions of affection, support and comfort," he said. "And 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"

In the CNN segment Monday, Carmon thought the accusations  deserved to keep Biden out of the Democratic race for president in 2020. Carmon said she would urge him to leave politics with his reputation intact. "To me, if I were close to Joe Biden—and I think he has a long career of public service to be proud of, but if I were close to him—I would say, ‘Joe quit while you're ahead,'" she said. "It's not your time."

Sexual misconduct promises to feature prominently in the Democratic primaries. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) faced accusations of failing to prevent sexual harassment in his 2016 campaign. He has apologized, also saying he "was a little busy" to know what was happening in his campaign.

Another candidate, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D., N.Y.), has made fighting sexual misconduct a central part of her public identity. In March, a former staffer told Politico a senior staffer had sexually harassed her. She accused Gillibrand of protecting the staffer and "belittl[ing]" her. After the story came out, Gillibrand dismissed the accused staffer, admitting to "human errors" following the initial accusation.

You can read Biden's full statement here:

In my many years on the campaign trail and in public life, I have offered countless handshakes, hugs, expressions of affection, support and comfort. And 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.

I may not recall these moments the same way, and I may be surprised at what I hear. But we have arrived at an important time when women feel they can and should relate their experiences, and men should pay attention. And I will.

I will also remain the strongest advocate I can be for the rights of women. I will fight to build on the work I've done in my career to end violence against women and ensure women are treated with the equality they deserve. I will continue to surround myself with trusted women advisers who challenge me to see different perspectives than my own. And I will continue to speak out on these vitally-important issues where there is much more progress to be made and crucial fights that must be waged and won."