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Then-Vice President Joe Biden listens to then-President Barack Obama during a meeting in the Situation Room of the White House, Feb. 2, 2015.

Then-Vice President Joe Biden listens to then-President Barack Obama during a meeting in the Situation Room of the White House, Feb. 2, 2015. (Photo: Obama White House Flickr)

As Anita Hill Speaks Out, Joe Biden Dogged by Criticisms on First Day of 2020 Campaign

"May Anita Hill always be trending every time Joe Biden is."

Eoin Higgins

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.

"Stating obvious here: Biden had 28 years to say something," Times reporter Astead Herndon tweeted. "Called weeks before his presidential launch."

"I'm unsure how this could have gone worse for Joe Biden," said Rolling Stone's Jamil Smith. "Serves him right."

Biden's political opportunism didn't go unnoticed by researcher Natalie Shure.

"He never reached out to Anita Hill until this month, now why could that be," said Shure.

"He is the poster boy for misjudgment," said The Intercept's Mehdi Hasan.

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."

The move exposed a "lack of basic decency" on  Biden's part, said activist Mariame Kaba.

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. 

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