Former vice president Joe Biden shocked observers Thursday by pulling support for the Hyde Amendment one day after his campaign said he was still in favor of it, and now we know, at least partially, why he flipped.
Edward-Isaac Dovere of The Atlantic reported Friday that Biden received direct pressure from senior adviser Symone Sanders, and Biden's campaign manager heard from Alyssa Milano. Their message was the same: Biden needed to change his stance and support federally-funded abortions, immediately.
This was a tense two days in Biden's Washington, D.C., headquarters. The candidate was caught off guard after an NBC News story published Wednesday morning attempted to nail down where he stands on abortion policy—specifically Hyde. Symone Sanders, one of Biden's senior advisers, confronted him, she confirmed to me Thursday night, telling Biden that he was missing how his position disproportionately affected poor women and women of color without easy access to abortion. Alyssa Milano, the actor who's become a major online presence on issues of women's rights as well as a friend of the Biden team, spoke by phone Wednesday with Biden's campaign manager, Greg Schultz, telling him that the candidate needed to change. More calls came in, more tough conversations.
According to the story, Biden's aides want this to be seen as a "thoughtful evolution," which is somewhat ridiculous considering it took place within a matter of two days, at most. More likely, Biden and his campaign realized that they were taking on way more water than expected from powerful pro-abortion groups for opposing federal funding for abortions.
NARAL Pro-Choice America president Ilyse Hogue, one of the most significant of Biden's critics when he supported the amendment, said after Biden flipped that "his willingness to listen and learn at this moment from thousands of women who spoke up goes to his credit and makes me think that he is still evolving."
Evolution or not, Biden can count on hearing about this from his opponents as the Democratic primary goes on and other candidates tout the fact that they have "always" opposed the Hyde Amendment.