Prominent Bernie Sanders supporters are calling on Joe Biden to drop out of the 2020 race over Tara Reade's sexual assault allegation

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insider@insider.com (Eliza Relman)
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Sen. Bernie Sanders endorses Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden during a live streaming broadcast on April 13, 2020.
Sen. Bernie Sanders endorses Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden during a live streaming broadcast on April 13, 2020.

JoeBiden.com/Getty Images

  • Weeks after former Vice President Joe Biden was accused of sexually assaulting a former aide in 1993, Sen. Bernie Sanders endorsed Biden for president. 

  • Many of Sanders' supporters were disappointed with his decision to drop out of the race and suggested they might not vote for Biden in the general election. 

  • As new evidence emerges corroborating Reade's allegations, some prominent Sanders supporters are calling on Biden to drop out of the race. 

  • "There is simply no moral justification for Biden to continue as the presumptive nominee," Claire Sandberg, Sanders' 2020 national organizing director, tweeted on Tuesday. "Out of respect for survivors and for the good of the country, he should withdraw from the race."

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Just days after Sen. Bernie Sanders ended his 2020 Democratic presidential bid, he appeared on an April 13 livestream with former Vice President Joe Biden and issued a strong endorsement of the presumptive nominee.

This took place just weeks after Tara Reade, a former aide in Biden's Senate office in the early 1990s, came forward with new allegations that Biden sexually assaulted her in a Capitol Hill corridor in 1993. Reade was one of seven women who came forward last year to allege that Biden had touched or kissed them inappropriately. 

Biden's campaign has repeatedly denied Reade's assault claims. 

But as new evidence has emerged corroborating Reade's allegations, several prominent Sanders' supporters and former aides have broken with Sanders and called on Biden to drop out of the 2020 race. 

Claire Sandberg, Sanders' 2020 national organizing director, on Tuesday called on Biden to drop out of the race over the Reade allegations.  

"Now is the time to deal with the ramifications of Tara Reade's accusations, not this fall. There is simply no moral justification for Biden to continue as the presumptive nominee," she tweeted. "Out of respect for survivors and for the good of the country, he should withdraw from the race."

Peter Daou, a Hillary Clinton aide-turned vocal Sanders supporter,called on Biden over the weekend to end his presidential bid because Reade's allegations and said Sanders and other candidates should reenter the race.  

"We lose ALL moral authority if we embrace 'the lesser of two accused rapists,'" he wrote. 

 

Nick Brana, Sanders' 2016 national outreach director and the founder of Movement for a People's Party, urged the Democratic National Committee over the weekend to force Biden out of the race and "win with Bernie," adding the hashtag #DropOutBiden. 

"Dear @DNC, you have two options: 1. Pull Biden now and win with Bernie 2. Keep Biden, re-elect Trump, and admit that suppressing progressives is the true purpose of your party," he wrote, retweeting a Saturday Politico story examining a recording of Reade's mother alleging her daughter had "problems" with a "prominent senator." 

The @PeopleforBernie Twitter account run by Sanders supporters tweeted on Tuesday, "Joe Biden's candidacy is imploding." 

Briahna Joy Gray, Sanders' 2020 campaign spokeswoman, on Tuesday argued that it's "not a moral argument" to support Biden simply because he's a better option than Trump. 

 

Sanders publicly distanced himself from Gray after she declared earlier this month that she wouldn't endorse Biden for president, citing his opposition to Medicare for All, cancelling all student debt, and a wealth tax.   

"She is my former press secretary — not on the payroll," Sanders told the Associated Press on April 14.

Sanders added that it's "irresponsible" to reject Biden in the general election. 

GettyImages U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y) and Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) stand together during his campaign event at the Whittemore Center Arena on February 10, 2020 in Durham, New Hampshire.
U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y) and Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) stand together during his campaign event at the Whittemore Center Arena on February 10, 2020 in Durham, New Hampshire.

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Other voices on the left call out Biden but insist on voting for him

Other high-profile Sanders supporters and former aides have been more compromising in their approach to Biden's candidacy.

Former senior Sanders advisers, including Sanders' 2016 campaign manager Jeff Weaver, recently announced they're forming a super PAC with the aim of unifying progressives behind Biden. Sanders, who has long opposed the existence of super PACs, hasn't endorsed the effort. 

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, perhaps Sanders' most influential 2020 supporter and surrogate, says she wants to see Biden move to the left on key policy issues before she endorses or campaigns for him, but she insisted she would vote for him regardless in November. 

Ocasio-Cortez was one of the first lawmakers to offer support for Reade and urge other Democrats to take her claims seriously. 

"I think it's legitimate to talk about these things," she said in mid-April of Reade's allegations. "You can't say, you know — both believe women, support all of this, until it inconveniences you, until it inconveniences us."

Some prominent feminist voices on the left have also accused Democratic politicians and other more moderate feminists of prematurely dismissing Reade's claims and sowing doubt about her credibility. 

They've expressed anger at being forced to support Biden as the lesser of two evils. And they've lamented that the #MeToo movement will be damaged by electing the Democratic nominee to the White House and that Biden's feminist critics will be demonized for hurting his candidacy. 

"I am livid that Democratic women will be called on, once again, to cast our vote in the name of reducing harm to the country rather than moving it forward," Jessica Valenti, a feminist author and columnist, wrote in an April 14 Medium post. "The truth is that this election is going to be terrible for women, no matter what we do." 

Rebecca Traister, another well-known feminist writer, argued that the women Biden plans to pick as his vice presidential running mate, appoint to the Supreme Court, and fill his Cabinet will be tarred by the allegations against him and should be given the freedom to criticize his record. 

"If part of the work of this election is pushing for a politics that is more just, we should be insisting on freedom for women — including those who will be asked to support Joe Biden, within his party and as his running mate — to fully express themselves about the gendered and political realities in front of us," Traister wrote in New York Magazine this week. 

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