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Just how long is Joe Biden planning to stay in his basement?

Where Barack Obama achieved notoriety for “leading from behind,” Joe Biden, these last two months, has been leading from the basement.

And, one must add, doing so quite successfully.

Since his rout of Bernie Sanders on Super Tuesday, Biden has led President Donald Trump in every national poll and, lately, opened up a lead in Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Florida. One poll has him tied with Trump in Texas.

Last week, however, reality intruded. Biden was forced to defend himself against the lurid charge of ex-aide Tara Reade that, as a senator in 1993, he had groped and assaulted her inside the Capitol complex.

Why did Biden go public?

Because witnesses were coming forward to say Reade told them of Biden’s misconduct years ago, and major media outlets began to give the charge credibility by moving the allegation onto Page One.

Media allies were signaling that they could not forever give Biden a pass on this, and he had to speak to the charges. Which is what Biden did Friday as he told MSNBC’s Mika Brzezinski:

“This never happened … and it’s as simple as that.”

With that flat denial, Biden put his credibility on the line — in defense of his character. For one cannot equate what Reade claims Biden did with the reputation he has built over half a century as a decent and honorable man. Biden now has to persuade the nation this woman is deluded, wildly exaggerating, misremembering — or is deliberately lying.

If “nothing happened,” Biden must explain how well he knew Reade and why she left a plum job in the office of a U.S. senator after only nine months.

This is not a matter any presidential candidate wants to discuss while conducting his campaign. But this is only the beginning of Biden’s problems — and of his party’s problems with Biden.

With four months left before his nomination in Milwaukee, and six months before the November election, there are still among Democrats gnawing concerns based on Biden’s performance in the debates and primaries, and since, that he has lost the ability to articulate issues clearly and cogently, or to complete complex thoughts.

The worry is that he is suffering from mental decline and could be destroyed by Trump in a presidential debate. Biden forgets, mumbles, misspeaks, loses his train of thought and appears, at times, confused.

Moreover, Biden is no spring chicken. He would take office at 78, one year older than Ronald Reagan, our oldest president, was when he left office.

Biden has also signaled, by his references to being a “bridge” president, that he will be serving only the single term that would end in 2025 with him having celebrated his 82nd birthday. “I view myself as a transition candidate,” Biden conceded last week.

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