Who will Joe Biden pick as his Vice President nominee?

August 6, 2020

Joe Biden will make the all-important decision about who will be his vice presidential candidate in the coming days.

A former vice president himself, Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee, has committed to selecting a woman as his running mate, and a number of high-profile public figures are seen as the top contenders.

While he is expected to make a decision next week, Biden is unlikely to publicly announce whom he is selecting until the second week of August, according to a source familiar with the process.

Still, as the decision nears, here’s a look at who Biden is considering and why.

Kamala Harris

The California senator has long been seen as the top contender to be Biden’s running mate. Harris would be the first Black woman and first Indian American woman to have such a position on a ticket, which would make her a historic choice.

Most Democrats also see Harris as a safe choice; someone who would be ready to serve as president and who would meet calls for this Democratic ticket to represent the party’s diversity.

At the same time, there are some reasons why Biden might not pick her.

For starters, she and Biden clashed memorably on the debate stage last summer, and there have been recent reports that some in Biden’s orbit may be holding a grudge.

Last week, it was reported that former Sen. Chris Dodd, who is a part of Biden’s vice presidential search committee, was taken aback by Harris’s response when asked why she chose to launch an attack on Biden in the debate.

“She laughed and said, ‘that’s politics.’ She had no remorse,” Dodd said, according to Politico.

But a Biden ally said the former vice president quickly moved on from the ambush after the debate, and that the comments won’t influence his decision-making.

Elizabeth Warren

Biden has spoken to the Massachusetts senator a handful of times in recent months because he has wanted to incorporate some of her policy ideas. Biden, for example, received some help from Warren when it came time to put together a hefty economic proposal which he has unveiled in recent weeks.

“It’s a testament to Warren’s attention to detail and her savviness on policy,” one Biden ally said.

Warren has made it known in no uncertain terms that she wants the VP job. “Yes,” she told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow without hesitation when the host asked her if she would accept an offer from Biden.

At the same time, some Democrats are skeptical that Biden would pick Warren. With a big lead in some of the polls, they say choosing the senator would be too risky. And on the heels of the protests on racial equality, they say Biden should select a woman of color.

Susan Rice

The former national security adviser checks all the boxes on Biden’s wish list for his running mate. Those around the former vice president say Rice is a logical choice for Biden mostly because he worked so closely alongside her as vice president and he has said he prefers a running mate who is “simpatico with me.”

“When he says he wants someone ready to be president on Day 1, she fits the bill,” the Biden ally said.

Some Democrats worry that a Rice pick could reignite the Republican talking points on the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya. In 2012, Rice appeared on several Sunday talk shows, saying the attack on the was the result of a protest that turned violent instead of a planned terrorist attack. The administration later concluded it was a terrorist attack.

Democrats also fear that the fact Rice has never run for elected office could be a flaw, particularly in a political climate where anything goes.

Karen Bass

The California congresswoman’s stock rose with Team Biden in recent weeks during the final stages of the search, with various members of Congress including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA.) vouching for her.

Biden allies think Bass, who leads the Congressional Black Caucus, has gained favor internally because she is largely seen as a well-liked congresswoman who could be a no-drama, no-risk selection for Biden.

On Friday, the Sacramento Bee published an unsigned editorial asking Biden to pick Bass over Harris.

“If Biden chooses a California VP, he likely won’t pick Karen Bass,” the board wrote. “Clearly, however, the community activist whose passion for service led others to draft her into electoral politics is the better choice.”

The big question surrounding Bass is whether she is ready for the position.

“The jump from being a member of Congress to being the vice president and maybe president is a big leap,” another Biden ally said.

Tammy Duckworth

The junior senator from Illinois earned a spot on Biden’s short list because she embodies American patriotism, something near and dear to Biden.

The veteran who lost both legs in the Iraq war and received the Purple Heart, got to know Biden and his wife, Jill, when she worked as an assistant secretary in the Department of Veteran Affairs. Both Bidens became involved in issues and policies concerning veterans.

She was also named the most effective first term Democratic senator in the 115th Congress by the Center for Effective Lawmaking, a partnership between Vanderbilt University and the University of Virginia.

But some Biden allies cast some doubts about her strength on economic issues, which is and will continue to be one of the central issues with the nation facing record high unemployment.

Val Demings

Representative from Florida since 2017; she served as police chief in Orlando after a long career there as an officer. Demings has been an outspoken voice in the House on issues related to gun control and law enforcement; and served as an impeachment manager in the Senate trial of President Trump.

Demings and Biden do not have a longstanding relationship, but they campaigned together for Florida Democrats during the 2018 elections.

Demings is a strong campaigner with a résumé that matches the moment, and she comes from a crucial part of the country’s biggest swing state. But she has not been closely vetted by the press and her experience in elected office is relatively brief.

Keisha Lance Bottoms

Mayor of Atlanta since 2018, she served two terms on the Atlanta City Council.

Among the most prominent city leaders grappling with the coronavirus pandemic and answering the calls for police reform and racial justice; quickly called for the firing of the officer who fatally shot Rayshard Brooks and then announced new restrictions on the use of force by police; made criminal justice reform a major priority, including strictly limiting the use of cash bail.

Bottoms was an early supporter of Mr. Biden in the presidential race, serving as a fiercely loyal campaign surrogate, even when he was down in the polls.

Bottoms has cut an impressive figure during a national reckoning over race and policing, and she hails from a crucial political battleground. But her short time in high office could be an obstacle.