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Joe Biden launches VP search committee for White House bid

Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, on Thursday, unveiled a committee to help him search for and vet a running mate in his White House race against Donald Trump.

The step comes as Biden faces mounting pressure to address allegations by a former aide that he sexually assaulted her in the 1990s, and as top Democrats came to the party icon’s defense.

Biden has pledged to pick a woman for vice president, a position he himself held for eight years during Barack Obama’s presidency.

“Selecting a vice presidential candidate is one of the most important decisions in a presidential campaign and no one knows this more than Joe Biden,” his campaign manager Jen O’Malley Dillon said in a statement.

The co-chairs are former senator Chris Dodd; congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester; Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti; and Cynthia Hogan, a former counsel to Biden.

“These four co-chairs reflect the strength and diversity of our party, and will provide tremendous insight and expertise to what will be a rigorous selection and vetting process,” O’Malley Dillon said.

The committee’s formation comes amid increasing pressure for Biden to address allegations that in 1993 he assaulted a 29-year-old staff assistant who worked in his US Senate office.

Biden’s campaign has denied the claims, but he himself has not responded directly to the allegations by Tara Reade, now 56.

US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who this week endorsed Biden for president, addressed the issue at her Thursday press conference which focused on the coronavirus pandemic.

Pelosi defends
“I have complete respect for the Me Too movement” against sexual harassment, Pelosi said.

But she stressed that “there was never any record” about the assault, and “nobody ever came forward to say something about it apart from the principal involved” until 27 years later.

Biden is “a person of great values” who has fought for women’s rights throughout his political career, she said.

“I have great comfort level with the situation as I see it, with all due respect in the world for any woman who comes forward, with all the highest regard for Joe Biden.”

Several women seen as candidates to be Biden’s running mate, including Senator Kamala Harris and former Georgia state lawmaker Stacey Abrams, have expressed support for Biden regarding the allegations.

“I know Joe Biden and I think he’s telling the truth and this did not happen,” Abrams, who narrowly lost the Georgia governor’s race in 2018, told CNN Tuesday.

Biden, 77, said Wednesday he had a proud history of campaigning against sexual violence.

“As you know, I wrote and championed the Violence Against Women Act, transformed how this country gets justice and support to survivors and led the ‘It’s On Us’ campaign to fight sexual assault on campuses,” he told a virtual town hall.

The Reade allegations present a thorny problem for his campaign.

Harris and Senator Amy Klobuchar, another potential running mate, played leading roles in opposing the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court over unproven accusations that he sexually assaulted a woman at a high school party in the 1980s.

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