Whitmer, possible Biden VP pick and a rape survivor, says ‘women should be able to tell their stories’

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, whose name has been mentioned as a possible running mate for presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, spoke early Friday about the sexual assault claims against the former vice president.

“Women should be able to tell their stories,” Whitmer said, apparently supporting the right of former Biden Senate staffer Tara Reade to go public with her claim of having been sexually assaulted by Biden in 1993 – a claim Biden denies.

Whitmer shared her remarks during an appearance on ABC’s “Nightline” – just hours before Biden addressed the claims on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe."

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During the conversation, Whitmer said she was “a survivor myself.”

Whitmer, 48, who became Michigan’s governor in January 2019, has previously spoken publicly of being sexually assaulted in 1989 while she was a student at Michigan State University.

“Over 20 years ago, I was a victim of rape and, thank God, it didn’t result in a pregnancy from an attacker,” the Democrat said in 2013, while speaking out against a Republican-backed anti-abortion bill when she was a state senator. “As a mother with two girls, the thought that they would ever go through something like I did keeps me up at night.”

Last December, in a speech at Eastern Michigan University, Whitmer said the trauma from the attack made her reluctant to discuss it for years.

“The statistics don’t show what pain (survivors) carry,” Whitmer told an audience at EMU, according to a university website. “It took me two decades to find the courage to tell my story. … The timing of a survivor’s report doesn’t make it any less valid. … When we speak up and share our truth, people listen.”

"It took me two decades to find the courage to tell my story. … The timing of a survivor’s report doesn’t make it any less valid."

— Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer

As she concluded her remarks in Ypsilanti that day, Whitmer offered a message to other survivors.

“I see you, I hear you, I believe you …” she said. “I carry you in my heart every day, and I’ll never stop fighting for you.”

In the Friday interview, she said the claims against Biden didn’t align with her personal impressions of the 77-year-old former vice president.

“The Joe Biden I know, these stories are inconsistent with what I know and what I've seen, in terms of work that he's done to support women," Whitmer told ABC, according to the Detroit Free Press.

She also said she hasn’t been convinced by the story Reade has told so far.

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“I'll add that in doing an investigation it has appeared as though there has not been, you know, much beyond that, the story,” Whitmer said.

Whitmer previously addressed the allegations against Biden during an April 14 interview on NPR.

“Well, I think women should be able to tell their stories,” she said at the time. “I think that it is important that these allegations are vetted, from the media to beyond. And I think that, you know, it is something that no one takes lightly. But it is also something that is, you know, personal. And so it’s hard to give you greater insight than that, not knowing more about the situation.

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Whitmer’s most recent remarks on the Tara Reade allegations came just hours after another Democrat said to be in the running to join Biden on the party’s 2020 ticket said Reade’s story deserves “to be listened to.”

Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., addressed the matter in a Politico podcast interview Thursday.

“Any woman who brings, or any man for that matter, who brings forward allegations of abuse, especially in the workplace, deserve to be listened to, and I certainly think that we need to thoroughly look at these allegations,” Duckworth said, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.