It's only been 24 hours since he announced his candidacy for president, but Joe Biden's long record as a Democratic lawmaker—which many progressive critics note is full of ripe offenses—has already hit speed bumps and raised rebuke.
The former vice president's long-expected bid for the 2020 Democratic nomination kicked off Thursday morning with a video announcement projecting a message of hope in troubled times.
Within hours, however, Biden's campaign was forced to answer difficult questions on his record involving Anita Hill and the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings.
During the 1991 Senate hearings, Hill was the most prominent witness against Thomas, accusing the judge of harassment and misconduct. But her testimony was dismantled in the Judiciary committee, not least because of Biden's relentless attacks.
On Thursday, Hill revealed in an interview with The New York Times that Biden finally called her to apologize for his conduct—only a week before his announcement.
Per the Times:
In a lengthy telephone interview on Wednesday, she declined to characterize Mr. Biden's words to her as an apology and said she was not convinced that he has taken full responsibility for his conduct at the hearings — or for the harm he caused other victims of sexual harassment and gender violence.
"I will be satisfied when I know there is real change and real accountability and real purpose," said Hill, who added that she did believe people can change.
The timing of Biden's call did not go unmentioned by observers.
"May Anita Hill always be trending every time Joe Biden is," said writer Sarah Jaffe.
may Anita Hill always be trending every time Joe Biden is— Sarah Jaffe (@sarahljaffe) April 25, 2019
"Stating obvious here: Biden had 28 years to say something," Times reporter Astead Herndon tweeted. "Called weeks before his presidential launch."
Stating obvious here: Biden had 28 years to say something. Called weeks before his presidential launchhttps://t.co/8DfRSML2KS— Steadman™ (@AsteadWesley) April 25, 2019
"I'm unsure how this could have gone worse for Joe Biden," said Rolling Stone's Jamil Smith. "Serves him right."
Other than Anita Hill hanging up on him, I’m unsure how this could have gone worse for @JoeBiden. Serves him right. He had 28 years to apologize, and he tried this right before launching a presidential campaign. Probably thought it would stay secret, too. https://t.co/GNHU3gBjXJ— Jamil Smith (@JamilSmith) April 25, 2019
Biden's political opportunism didn't go unnoticed by researcher Natalie Shure.
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"He never reached out to Anita Hill until this month, now why could that be," said Shure.
Biden has been exploring another presidential run for a long time, consolidating support and tapping into donor networks. But he never reached out to Anita Hill until this month, now why could that be— Natalie Shure (@nataliesurely) April 26, 2019
"He is the poster boy for misjudgment," said The Intercept's Mehdi Hasan.
Imagine being Joe Biden and thinking about running for president for all these years, declaring so late compared to your rivals, but still waiting so late in the day to call Anita Hill to offer what she didn’t even consider to be an apology. He is the poster boy for misjudgment.— Mehdi Hasan (@mehdirhasan) April 25, 2019
Lucy Flores, a Nevada Democrat who said Biden acted inappropriately toward her in 2014, tweeted that she hoped Biden would face questions on his behavior toward Hill during an appearance on The View scheduled for Friday morning.
"Please be sure you ask Joe Biden about this," said Flores.
The Hill interview wasn't the only rough seas Biden faced in his first campaign day. The former vice president leaned heavily on the death of activist Heather Heyer, who died in a white supremacist attack in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017.
According to Heyer's mother, Susan Bro, neither Biden nor his team reached out to the family before making and airing the ad.
"Most people do that sort of thing," Bro told The Daily Beast. "They capitalize on whatever situation is handy."
Daily Beast reports Biden campaign didn't tell Heather Heyer's mother that he'd be invoking his daughter's murder in his campaign launch video.— Brandon Wall (@Walldo) April 25, 2019
"Most people do that sort of thing. They capitalize on whatever situation is handy" https://t.co/KJhwUBDHk9
The move exposed a "lack of basic decency" on Biden's part, said activist Mariame Kaba.
A lack of basic decency. https://t.co/vnMNCuKNNy— Prison Culture Returns (@prisonculture) April 25, 2019
Twitter user @discosocialist summed up the Biden campaign's first day succinctly.
"It's almost like Biden has trouble with respecting women's boundaries," he said.