Vice President Joe Biden commended the Baltimore Ravens for firing running back Ray Rice after footage of him beating his then-fiancee emerged on TMZ Monday morning.
Appearing on NBC's "Today" show, Biden pointed out that a good chunk of the NFL's fan base is female, giving the league an imperative to act. But he also acknowledged that the first punishment (a two-game suspension), which came after the initial video emerged of Rice dragging his unconscious fiancee from the elevator, was too lenient.
"So all of a sudden they said, ‘Wait a minute, he got suspended for a couple games? Whoa, that’s not enough.’ Then, they get a little more sensitized. And then it was longer," said Biden. "And then when the video was out there, and saw how brutal it was, the Ravens did the right thing: fired him, immediately. Now you can argue: They should have done it sooner, they didn’t want it. Whatever the reason is, it’s happening.”
Many have made the case that the Ravens should have moved more quickly, asking why it took the emergence of a second video of the elevator confrontation for the team and the NFL to act.
Nevertheless, the White House has been supportive of the Ravens' decision to cut ties with its running back and the NFL’s decision to suspend him indefinitely. In a statement Monday night, press secretary Josh Earnest conveyed the president’s condemnation of Rice:
The President is the father of two daughters. And like any American, he believes that domestic violence is contemptible and unacceptable in a civilized society. Hitting a woman is not something a real man does, and that’s true whether or not an act of violence happens in the public eye, or, far too often, behind closed doors. Stopping domestic violence is something that’s bigger than football -- and all of us have a responsibility to put a stop to it.
For Biden, the Rice issue has a policy tie-in. When he was a senator, he wrote the Violence Against Women Act, which devoted hundred of millions of dollars to combat crimes against women and imposed sharper penalties for the perpetrators. In a sad bit of timing, considering that issue remains very much on the forefront of the public’s consciousness, lawmakers will celebrate the 20th anniversary of the signing of that law this Saturday. The White House commemorated it with a statement on Tuesday morning:
Twenty years ago, our Nation came together to declare our commitment to end violence against women. The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), written by then United States Senator Joe Biden and signed into law on September 13, 1994, changed the way our country responds to domestic abuse and sexual assault. At a time when many considered domestic abuse to be a private family matter and victims were left to suffer in silence, this law enshrined a simple promise: every American should be able to pursue her or his own measure of happiness free from the fear of harm. On the anniversary of this landmark legislation, we rededicate ourselves to strengthening the protections it first codified, and we reaffirm the basic human right to be free from violence and abuse.