Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 26 November 2020

US ELECTIONS

Joe Biden close to naming vice presidential candidate as speculation intensifies

Democratic nominee for US presidency has pledged to pick a woman as his running mate

US Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden during a discussion with former US president Barack Obama on the 2020 election at an undisclosed location. EPA
US Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden during a discussion with former US president Barack Obama on the 2020 election at an undisclosed location. EPA

US Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden is approaching the final phase of choosing a running mate as his campaign settles on a shortlist of female candidates.

Mr Biden, 77, plans to interview the candidates in person before announcing his choice in the next two to three weeks.

Given his age, the process of finding a vice presidential candidate is receiving unprecedented attention.

Mr Biden may be picking the 2024 Democratic nominee, if he ends up winning in November but does not run for a second term.

Throughout the four-month vetting process, he pledged to pick a woman as his running partner.

Mr Biden wants someone who is "strong", is “simpatico” with him and is "ready to be president on day one".

The former vice president is trying to mirror his experience with Barack Obama, and he told MSNBC last week that at least four black women were on his shortlist.

These are the major names being considered by the campaign, listed in order of their possible chances:

Kamala Harris

The senator from California and former prosecutor is still the front-runner for the position.

Ms Harris has national appeal, holds an elected office, and at 55, balances the ticket for age.

She is the only black woman elected to the Senate and is centre-left in a way that neither antagonises the base nor alienates moderates.

A Monmouth University poll released in June found Ms Harris to be a top choice, with 28 per cent favouring her.

But her attacks on Mr Biden over the issue of race during the debates, when they were competing for the nomination, has diminished her chances and is raising questions about her ability to be a team player.

Former senator Chris Dodd, a close friend of Mr Biden and a senior member of his vice presidential search committee, is reportedly not a fan of her debate approach.

Politico reported that Mr Dodd, a close friend of Mr Biden, recently asked Ms Harris about her debate ambush and "was stunned by her response".

Mr Biden’s spouse, Jill Biden, and his sister Valerie have voiced similar reservations about Ms Harris in the past.

But her broad appeal and fund-raising ability have helped her to stay as a leading contender.

Susan Rice

The former national security adviser and ambassador to the UN has seen her star rise quickly in the race for candidacy.

While she has never held an elected office, Ms Rice, an African American, worked closely with Mr Biden in her eight years with the Obama administration, is articulate, and would bring decades of foreign policy and national security experience to the ticket.

Ms Rice, 55, would also bring generational balance and has maintained strong ties with Mr Obama.

Republicans could choose to attack her over her role as UN envoy after the 2012 attack on the US embassy in Benghazi, Libya, in which ambassador Christopher Stevens was killed.

They could also raise the email Ms Rice sent about a meeting in which Michael Flynn, her successor as national security adviser, was discussed with Mr Obama and Mr Biden.

But experts say these are unlikely to be crucial issues during this election season.

Karen Bass

If there is one pick that is closest in demeanour and policy style to Mr Biden, it is Congresswoman Karen Bass.

The California legislator is the head of the Congressional Black Caucus, and one of the chief architects of the Police Reform Bill.

While Ms Bass, 66, does not bring the next-generation balance to the ticket, she has long legislative experience, is favoured by the activist base and supporters of Bernie Sanders, and is known to work with Republicans in Congress.

She is articulate, smooth and likes to avoid the cameras.

WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 22: Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA) speaks during a news conference to discuss an upcoming House vote regarding statues on Capitol Hill on July 22, 2020 in Washington, DC. House Democrats have introduced a bill that would replace the bust of former Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger B. Taney in the Old Supreme Court Chamber at the U.S. Capitol with one of former Justice Thurgood Marshall. Taney was the author of the 1857 Dred Scott decision that declared African Americans couldn't be citizens. Drew Angerer/Getty Images/AFP == FOR NEWSPAPERS, INTERNET, TELCOS & TELEVISION USE ONLY ==
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 22: Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA) speaks during a news conference to discuss an upcoming House vote regarding statues on Capitol Hill on July 22, 2020 in Washington, DC. House Democrats have introduced a bill that would replace the bust of former Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger B. Taney in the Old Supreme Court Chamber at the U.S. Capitol with one of former Justice Thurgood Marshall. Taney was the author of the 1857 Dred Scott decision that declared African Americans couldn't be citizens. Drew Angerer/Getty Images/AFP == FOR NEWSPAPERS, INTERNET, TELCOS & TELEVISION USE ONLY ==

The Democratic Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, first recommended Ms Bass to the Biden campaign, CBS reported.

On Sunday, Ms Bass told MSNBC that she regretted describing Fidel Castro as “Comandante en Jefe” after his death in 2016.

“I’ve talked to my colleagues in the House about that and it’s certainly something that I would not say again,” she said.

Ms Bass does not have a national name but with a reputation as a team player and as someone who is not seeking to be president, she is now a contender for the vice president pick.

 Former vice president Joe Biden talks with senator Elizabeth Warren, centre, and Senator Kamala Harris, right, after the conclusion of the 2020 Democratic US presidential debate in Houston, Texas, on September 12, 2019. Reuters
 Former vice president Joe Biden talks with senator Elizabeth Warren, centre, and Senator Kamala Harris, right, after the conclusion of the 2020 Democratic US presidential debate in Houston, Texas, on September 12, 2019. Reuters

Elizabeth Warren

Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, a liberal firebrand who appeals to progressives and the Democratic party base, has consistently been a strong contender for the vice presidential position.

Ms Warren and Mr Biden have been talking regularly in recent weeks.

She is the best-known name on the national stage and is regarded favourably by 45 per cent of registered voters, according to a poll by The New York Times.

Ms Warren, 71, would help Mr Biden to galvanise the youth.

But if picked, she would risk a Democratic seat in the Senate given that Massachusetts has a Republican Governor.

Her leftist credentials could also hurt Mr Biden’s appeal to Republicans turning against President Donald Trump.

Val Demings

The Florida congresswoman, a lesser-known name on the national stage, has a unique background as a former police chief, a descendant of slaves and the daughter of a maid and a janitor.

Ms Demings, 63, raised her profile during the impeachment hearings of Mr Trump, where she managed the trial.

She is well spoken and could help Mr Biden win in Florida in November.

But questions about police brutality during Ms Demings's tenure as an Orlando police chief have become more acute since the Black Lives Matter protests and have hurt her case.

Tammy Duckworth

The senator from Illinois is an Iraq war veteran and double amputee who can help Mr Biden to attract military votes and improve his numbers in the Midwestern states.

Ms Duckworth, 52, made headlines through her attacks on Mr Trump and Fox News host Tucker Carlson after claims of Russia paying the Taliban bounties to kill US troops broke in June.

If picked, she would be the first Asian-American on a national presidential ticket.

But in an interview with CNN today, Ms Duckworth said she had not spoken to Mr Biden in “several weeks”.

Keisha Lance Bottoms

The Mayor of Atlanta, Georgia, was one of the earliest endorsers of Mr Biden in June 2019.

Ms Bottoms, 50, was praised by the House's majority Whip and highly respected African-American Congressman, Jim Clyburn.

She drew national attention during the George Floyd and Black Lives Matter protests in Atlanta, and could help Mr Biden to win Georgia, a state the Democrats have not won since 1992.

Ms Bottoms and her husband have contracted Covid-19.

Michelle Lujan Grisham

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, who pushed for an immediate increase in the minimum wage in New Mexico to $10 an hour, has said some unintended consequences of the new law may make it necessary for lawmakers to revisit the issue at some point.FMN Minwage folo2 1216
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, who pushed for an immediate increase in the minimum wage in New Mexico to $10 an hour, has said some unintended consequences of the new law may make it necessary for lawmakers to revisit the issue at some point.FMN Minwage folo2 1216

The Governor of New Mexico is not known nationally, but is the only Latina on the list.

Ms Grisham, 60, has been highly commended and was profiled in the Rolling Stone for her job in tackling the Covid-19 pandemic.

She would bring executive experience to the job and help Mr Biden with Hispanic voters, with whom his support lags behind that of former nominee Hillary Clinton.

Gretchen Whitmer

The Michigan governor, 48, would help Mr Biden in a state that Hillary Clinton lost by fewer than 11,000 votes, and in the rural Midwest.

Mr Biden said recently he was still considering Ms Whitmer for the position, but she had been criticised for some aspects of her response to Covid-19.

Gina Raimondo

The Governor of Rhode Island, 49, is not widely talked about in vice president speculation.

While Ms Raimondo does not come from a minority and endorsed Michael Bloomberg initially during the campaign, she brings executive experience and was widely praised for her coronavirus response.

She is the first woman to become Governor in her state.

Updated: July 28, 2020 09:27 PM

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