Vice President Harris engaged Friday in a friendly talk on empowering women with former President Bill Clinton, refusing to bow to the outcry over her decision to appear with a man accused of sexual misconduct despite her MeToo bona fides.
Ms. Harris made it clear she had no qualms about taking part in the one-on-one virtual discussion with Mr. Clinton, which was hosted by the Clinton Global Initiative in partnership Howard University, her alma mater.
“Well, first of all, Mr. President, it is a true honor to join you,” said Ms. Harris. “And to all the young leaders, I send you greetings, I bring you greetings. I know we have many Howard students, but I know we have young leaders from around the world here.”
She added: “It is an honor to be with the president at his invitation and with all of you.”
Her participation in the 20-minute dialogue on “the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on women, and empowering women and girls in the U.S. and around the world” prompted accusations of hypocrisy, given her hard line on Brett Kavanaugh during his 2018 Supreme Court confirmation hearing.
“I believe her,” said Ms. Harris in August 2018, referring to Christine Blasey Ford, who accused Mr. Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her while they were in high school. He has denied it.
Ms. Harris may have defended Ms. Blasey Ford, but she said nothing about Juanita Broaddrick, the Arkansas businesswoman who accused Mr. Clinton of raping her in 1978, which he has denied.
“I wonder if @HowardU would like to include me in their empowering women event with Bill Clinton to discuss this?” tweeted Ms. Broaddrick on Tuesday.
Others weighing in included Biden accuser Tara Reade, who tweeted Thursday, “Kamala Harris and Bill Clinton touting girls’ empowerment together is a bad joke,” and sex-trafficking victim Virginia Giuffre, who has linked Mr. Clinton to convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein.
“Wow!! She’s asking Clinton to empower women?? Wrong person,” tweeted Ms. Giuffre on Wednesday, as shown on the [U.K.] Daily Mail.
Mr. Clinton acknowledged last year through a spokesperson he took flights on Epstein’s private plane, but said that has said he had no knowledge of the late multi-millionaire’s crimes. President Biden has denied Ms. Reade’s sexual-assault claim.
Said author Celia Viggo Wexler in an op-ed for NBC News: “Kamala Harris and Bill Clinton touting girls’ empowerment together is a bad joke.”
— Steve Cortes (@CortesSteve) March 26, 2021
During the discussion, Mr. Harris touted the $1.9 trillion stimulus bill’s benefits for women, including funding for childcare and paid sick leave, saying that two million women dropped out of the workforce during the novel coronavirus pandemic.
She also praised Mr. Clinton, saying that “you have always focused on the issue of poverty, and what we must do to lift folks out of poverty,” and his advocacy for funding for the National Institutes of Health.
“I just wanted to thank you because as president, you really did highlight that and the importance of also the public funding for that research,” said Ms. Harris.
The two also shared a joke about a phrase she borrowed from former Vice President Al Gore.
“When Al Gore was vice president, and he did a fabulous job, but he had a wonderful saying. He said, whenever I vote, we win,” said Mr. Clinton, referring to the vice president’s role as tiebreaker in the Senate.
Ms. Harris laughed and declared, “I have adopted that saying.”
The 13th annual Clinton Global Initiative University event hosted 600 students from around the world to “explore topics on restoring faith in democracy, environmental justice, COVID-19 recovery, and creating systemic change.”
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Chelsea Clinton also participated in the three-day virtual event.