The Biden campaign wants to have it both ways on Linda Sarsour

Last week there was a brief controversy after former Women’s March co-chair Linda Sarsour appeared on a livestream for the DNC’s Muslims and Allies Assembly. The Biden campaign quickly released a statement distancing itself from Sarsour:

Today the site Middle East Eye reported that the campaign quietly apologized over that reaction. The whole conversation was supposed to be “off the record” but someone recorded it and Middle East Eye got a copy of the recording.

In a private call with dozens of prominent activists on Sunday, Ashley Allison, national coalitions director for the Biden campaign, said she was “sorry” for the comments that a campaign spokesman made against Sarsour.

Top foreign policy adviser Tony Blinken also expressed “regret” over the incident during the virtual meeting…

Allison said she empathised with “the pain” that the campaign had caused to Arabs and Muslims by disavowing Sarsour.

“I am sorry that that happened. And I hope that whatever trust was broken, that this conversation is one small step to help build back the trust, but that is not the last time we have this conversation,” Allison told the activists…

“My apologies for what we did and what happened,” Blinken told attendees, pledging to continue the conversation with community advocates.

During the call, Biden spokesperson Symone Sanders said the campaign statement about Sarsour was an “egregious misstep.”

Symone Sanders, a Biden adviser, stressed on Sunday’s call that the campaign did not equate criticism of Israel to antisemitism and recognises “constitutional right to free speech on issues like BDS”…

“That’s not how we do business… We are not in the business of condemning people and large swathes of the community, absolutely not,” she said.

So it certainly sounds as if the campaign was walking back its criticism of Sarsour, calling it a mistake and suggesting there is room in the big tent for BDS supporters. But after the story was published things took another twist. The campaign released another statement once again highlighting that it rejects “views that Linda Sarsour expressed.”

Are you getting whiplash yet? Originally, the campaign wanted to emphasize Biden’s support for Israel and condemn Sarsour’s views. Then it wanted to apologize for its statement about her. Then once the apology was made public it once again made clear it rejected her views.

At any point is Joe Biden himself going to say something about this?

Either the campaign supports Sarsour and her views or it does not. At the moment it seems to be trying its best to have it both ways.

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