This past week was a real test of Joe Biden’s staying power as one of the Democratic Party’s 2020 presidential front-runners.
Between two votes from his Senate career coming back to haunt him and a handful of cringeworthy moments, the former vice president saw increased pressure to address his biggest weak spots.
Here’s a look at his most notable moments from the past week.
Support For The Hyde Amendment
Biden spent much of the past week coming under fire for supporting the Hyde Amendment, a 1976 provision that restricts federal funding for abortions and that the former vice president voted for when he was a senator. Before reversing course later in the week, his campaign reiterated his support for the controversial policy on Wednesday.
Biden “has not at this point changed his position on the Hyde Amendment,” his campaign told HuffPost, and contended that “the Hyde Amendment does not prevent organizations in the U.S. that provide lifesaving health care services for women from receiving the federal funding they need.”
Because the provision bans Medicaid, Medicare and other federal health insurance programs from covering the vast majority of abortions, low-income women and women of color are disproportionately affected by it. Democrats and other 2020 candidates quickly slammed Biden for standing by such a policy.
“It’s been the law for a while, and it’s been wrong for a long time,” his opponent Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) said. Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) ― three others in the Democratic 2020 field ― also spoke out against the Hyde Amendment following his campaign’s comments.
By Thursday, Biden had changed his tune.
“I can’t justify leaving millions of women without the health care they need. ... If I believe health care is a right, as I do, I can no longer support [the amendment],” he said.
The Iraq War Vote
While progressives welcomed Biden’s reversal on the Hyde Amendment, the incident shed light on another hot-button issue from his past: his 2002 vote to give then-President George W. Bush the authority to invade Iraq.
In a tweet Friday, Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.) applauded and criticized Biden in the same breath.
“Now do the Iraq War,” he said, calling on Biden to say he erred in voting for the controversial war.
Moulton isn’t the only one with that issue on his mind. A Politico/Morning Consult poll last month found that nearly 3 in 10 Democrats were turned off by his Iraq War vote, and more than 40 percent of survey participants between the ages of 18 and 29 said Biden’s record on that issue made them less likely to support him.
His Continued Jokes About Inappropriate Touching
Biden didn’t do himself any favors this week when he, once again, made a punchline out of allegations that he has a history of inappropriately touching women and invading their personal space.
“I want the press to know, she pulled me close,” he said Tuesday during a town hall event in Berlin, New Hampshire. He was referring to a woman at the event who whispered something to him after he handed her a chair.
Such jokes have been a favorite of Biden’s in recent months, and while the method of making light of the accusations appears to go over well with his supporters, it’s earned him some critical press attention.
His Plagiarism Accusations
In an embarrassing flub, Biden’s campaign had to admit to plagiarizing a portion of the climate plan he released Tuesday. The error was unintentional and has been fixed, his campaign said that same day.
“Several citations were inadvertently left out of the final version of the 22-page document,” the campaign said. “As soon as we were made aware of it, we updated to include the proper citations.”
The original version of his climate plan included sentences that were identical to literature from two environmental organizations: BlueGreen Alliance and the Carbon Capture Coalition’s Center for Climate and Energy Solutions. It also pulled a phrase from the website of an advocacy group known as American Rivers and used Vox’s reporting on pollution, with similar sentence structures, without giving credit to either.
On top of the bungled rollout, his climate proposal was met with some mixed reviews. Critics say it was short on firm details, leaves room for fossil fuels and operates on a timeline too slow to prevent catastrophic global warming.