One of the Democrats considered to be in the running to join Joe Biden on the party’s 2020 presidential ticket says recent sexual assault allegations against the former vice president “deserve to be listened to.”
Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., addressed the matter in a podcast interview Thursday, one day before Biden planned to answer questions himself in a scheduled Friday TV appearance.
A former Biden Senate staffer, Tara Reade, claims Biden sexually assaulted her near the U.S. Capitol in 1993. The Biden campaign has claimed the allegations are unfounded but the candidate himself has so far not addressed them – and has not been questioned about them despite numerous media interviews since the accusations emerged last month.
Duckworth, 52, the junior U.S. senator in Illinois since January 2017 after serving in the U.S. House and in the U.S. military, told Politico’s “Women Rule” podcast that Reade’s accusations against Biden should not be ignored.
“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.
"I certainly think that we need to thoroughly look at these allegations."
“I think that the Biden campaign should address this issue, and they have been,” she added.
At this point, Duckworth said, she remains a supporter of Biden’s run for the White House.
Biden Deputy Campaign Manager Kate Bedingfield previously issued a statement regarding the accusations against the candidate.
“Vice President Biden has dedicated his public life to changing the culture and the laws around violence against women,” Bedingfield has said. "He authored and fought for the passage and reauthorization of the landmark Violence Against Women Act. 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,” she added. “This absolutely did not happen.”
Other rumored contenders to be Biden’s running mate have strongly defended the former vice president, including former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams and Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota.
Biden’s scheduled appearance on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” follows weeks of news reporting about the allegations, including stories in The New York Times and The Washington Post.
A Post editorial urged Biden to directly address the matter.
"Tara Reade deserves to be heard, and voters deserve to hear her,” The Post wrote. “They deserve to hear from Joe Biden, too.”
On Wednesday, a Post columnist touted Duckworth as Biden's best choice for a running mate -- but noted her birthplace of Thailand (though her father was an American citizen) might raise constitutionality questions.
Fox News’ Joseph A. Wulfsohn contributed to this story.