“This puts him on the ropes over having to talk about this,” said Patrick Murray, a pollster with Monmouth University. “He certainly doesn’t want to talk about this, his family.”

Murray suggested the ethical dimensions of the controversy — and the implications of Trump’s actions for impeachment, which Biden at present does not support — made any extended discussion of the story potentially perilous for Biden.

“At the primary level, I don’t think Democrats would believe these charges [concerning Biden] because of how polarized the debate is right now, but then they could start worrying that this could hurt him if he is the nominee,” Murray said. “It’s ‘can Biden fight back? Will this hurt his ability to take Trump on fully?’ And will it undermine that electability argument that he’s been making?”

In Florida, former Democratic nominee for governor and progressive activist Andrew Gillum said he was left feeling Biden came across as “defensive” when he initially spoke to reporters.