Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., said Sunday that Democratic senators who believed sexual assault accusations against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh shouldn't want to be Joe Biden's running mate, claiming there is more evidence for an assault claim against Biden as a sitting senator in the 1990s than there were for claims against Kavanaugh from his youth.
The Biden campaign has denied the allegation by an aide against the former vice president.
"These Democratic senators believed Christine Blasey Ford's claim against Justice Kavanaugh, yet there's more evidence to support Tara Reade's claim of sexual assault against Joe Biden," Cotton wrote in a Sunday tweet. "How could they possibly agree to be VP under those circumstances?"
The women who have been speculated about as potential vice presidential picks for Biden have remained largely silent on the accusations of sexual assault against him, and when they have addressed the claims they have chosen their words carefully.
"[I]n this case -- and your listeners should look at the story -- there was a thorough review by The New York Times. And I think that's very important to have, especially involving public figures," Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., said of the allegation in an NPR interview. "But I think when I look at -- when I see Vice President Biden, someone I worked with, I see him on -- a leader on domestic abuse -- led the bill before people were even willing to talk about those horrific crimes and has really been a champion of abuses of power against women and has used his voice on the domestic abuse front in such a big way"
Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., in an interview with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on her endorsement of Biden, noted that the "allegations are being aired publicly" while saying that she wanted to avoid commenting further until she had read more into the story.
Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms told NPR in an interview that the allegation against Biden "does not" affect her view of Biden's candidacy, calling him "a man of the highest integrity." Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., told the San Francisco Chronicle that Biden's accuser "has a right to tell her story" and that she doesn't know Biden to be the kind of person to commit sexual assault.
Fox News has reached out to Baldwin, Klobuchar, Lance Bottoms, Harris and 12 other potential running mates for Biden multiple times for comment on the allegation, including following a further development Friday night that bolstered the story of Biden's accuser. Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's office was the only one to respond.
"Governor Whitmer believes that it is important that these allegations are vetted, from the media to beyond and that it is something that no one takes lightly," a spokesperson for Whitmer told Fox News on Saturday. "But it is also something that is personal. We will not speculate or provide greater insight, without knowing more about the situation."
Many have compared Democrats' reaction to the allegation against Biden with their reaction to the allegations against Kavanaugh, noting that Democrats were quick to condemn Kavanaugh after he was first accused but have barely mentioned the accusation against Biden. And the highest-profile members of the party have commented on it typically only when prompted by the media.
The allegations against Biden are leveled by Tara Reade, who said she was a staff assistant for Biden in 1993 when he was in the Senate.
Reade, who has openly advocated for Biden primary rival Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., has come forward before — last year, when multiple women emerged claiming inappropriate touching by Biden. But late last month she told a far more graphic version of events to The Intercept and later to podcast host Katie Halper that raised the level of the allegations against Biden to sexual assault.
As the story has developed it has been contemporaneously corroborated by two of Reade's friends to the New York Times. Then an Aug. 11, 1993 clip from "Larry King Live" emerged in which a woman Reade claims is her mother calls into the show and alludes to her daughter’s experience on Capitol Hill with a "prominent senator."
"Yes, hello. I’m wondering what a staffer would do besides go to the press in Washington? My daughter has just left there, after working for a prominent senator, and could not get through with her problems at all, and the only thing she could have done was go to the press, and she chose not to do it out of respect for him," the caller says.
"In other words, she had a story to tell but, out of respect for the person she worked for, she didn’t tell it?" King inquires.
"That’s true," the woman responds before King cuts away to a panel to discuss her claim.
Still, the mother’s interview doesn’t specifically corroborate Reade’s latest allegations of assault, and could be referring more to the bullying allegations she raised last year. In a 2020 interview, Reade laid more blame with Biden’s staffers for “bullying her” than with Biden himself, The Washington Post reported.
The other vice presidential shortlist members who have not responded to Fox News' requests for comment and have not commented publicly on Reade's allegations include: Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass.; Rep. Val Demings, D-Fla.; former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates; Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H.; Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-N.H.; New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham; Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev.; Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill.; Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz.; Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y. and former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, whom Fox News reached out to through her voter rights organization Fair Fight.