July 28, 2020

Biden’s VP

“Biden, who committed to choosing a woman for the job he held for eight years under President Barack Obama, said [that] he expected the background vetting process to conclude around July 24. He would then interview each finalist before making a decision, expected by early August.” Reuters

See past issues

From the Left

The left sees Susan Rice and Kamala Harris as the frontrunners.

“Among Black women candidates, [Biden] should focus on which one can best help him face an overwhelmingly difficult governing challenge next year. There’s no time to build a relationship and no room to risk selecting a dud who can’t shoulder a big load. By that standard, Susan Rice is his best option. He already knows and trusts her (their offices were next door in the West Wing during Obama’s second term) and she possesses a cool, commanding gaffe-free public presence that can fairly be called ‘presidential’…

“The challenges posed by China and Russia alone could dominate [Biden’s] presidency. He needs someone who can confront not just Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping but Jair Bolsonaro, whose rapid destruction of the Amazon rain forest may be the single biggest threat the world faces… At home, the next vice-president will need to play enforcer with the White House staff and the agencies Trump gutted, compensating for Biden, who is by several accounts too nice a guy to run a tight ship by himself. Again, Rice is the only candidate with critically important experience in the executive branch.”
Jonathan Alter, Washington Monthly

Others, however, argue that “Rice has foreign policy experience, a deep Obama administration connection, and name recognition. Unfortunately, part of that recognition can be summed up in one word: Benghazi. The GOP would have a field day hammering her all over again for her alleged failures in the wake of the attack on U.S. diplomatic outposts there in 2012…

“Harris should be the pick. She’s tough, experienced, relatively young and progressive. And her background as a prosecutor could help cancel her negatives among voters in the heartland.”
Earl Ofari Hutchinson, Los Angeles Times

“If Biden were to tap Harris, he would hardly be the first to turn to a rival who had scuffed him up in a primary. Biden himself stands as an example. Barack Obama picked the then-Delaware senator in 2008, despite the fact that Biden had warned that his colleague from Illinois — who was still in his first term — would be a ‘naive’ commander in chief… And he was far from the first nominee to embrace a top critic. In 1980, against the advice of many in his camp, GOP nominee Ronald Reagan chose as his running mate George H.W. Bush, who had labeled Reagan’s policies ‘voodoo economics.’…

“Biden should hope that Harris — or whomever he picks — should not be bashful about stating her views, or apologetic when she does not prevail. No one knows better than Biden how important it is for a president to have a strong partner.”
Karen Tumulty, Washington Post

Some note that “In battleground states, among independent voters [Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)] is ranked best on the economy by 22 percent of voters, compared to 7 percent for Harris. She also comes out on top in terms of who’d be best at dealing with the coronavirus. Among independent voters, the poll also asked who would be best at taking over as president if something happened to Joe Biden. Warren also came in first with 13 percent to Harris’s 7 percent…

“The other interesting finding is that Harris scores better among voters who say they will definitely vote for Biden (25 to 15 for Warren) but Warren does better among voters who are less sure of whether they are backing Biden (21 to 5). In other words, Warren would help a lot more with undecided voters… other polls have shown that Warren outpolls Harris among Black voters… The key question has been which running mate will help him get elected. That increasingly seems to be Elizabeth Warren.”
Robert Kuttner, The American Prospect

“As Biden considers whom to choose as his running mate, competence should be the most important qualification… Fortunately for Biden, two possible running mates pass those tests: Representative Karen Bass of California and Governor Gina Raimondo of Rhode Island…

“Bass is a committed progressive, but she’s also respected by Republicans, and revered by Democratic leaders, including Nancy Pelosi and Jim Clyburn, who have recommended her to Biden. At 66, with no national profile, Bass isn’t likely to treat the Biden administration as a platform for her own presidential campaign. She would continue to be an effective policymaker and consensus-builder…

“And then there’s Gina Raimondo… She emulated South Korea and New Zealand, made tough decisions to shut down parts of the economy, scaled up testing and tracing, sent an unequivocal message to ‘wear your damn masks,’ and wrestled the virus to the ground. Today, Rhode Island’s curve has flattened—and restaurants, beaches, day-care centers, even movie theaters are reopening… Picking either Bass or Raimondo doubles down on Biden’s argument that what the presidency needs—just as much as decency and dignity—is knowledge and know-how.”
Brian Goldsmith, The Bulwark

From the Right

The right sees several candidates as strong picks and is critical of Susan Rice.

The right sees several candidates as strong picks and is critical of Susan Rice.

“Many observers think that in the aftermath of George Floyd’s killing, former vice president Joe Biden is more likely to pick a black woman as his running mate. That may be the case, but there’s an intriguing choice that could satisfy many of Biden’s political challenges simultaneously: Sen. Tammy Baldwin

“Black leaders should… be happy with Baldwin’s positions on racism and police reform. She is one of the authors of the Democrats’ police reform bill, and she was an early and vocal critic of the Minneapolis police’s behavior in the Floyd case…

“Baldwin has other advantages others might not: her experience and temperament. Biden has often spoken about needing someone with whom he can feel personally comfortable in the number two slot. Baldwin, like Biden, has held political office nearly all of her adult life, winning her first election at the age of 24. She also prefers the background to the spotlight, working to forge legislation rather than jump in front of the cameras.”
Henry Olsen, Washington Post

Similarly, “[Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL)] doesn’t bring along any baggage from past presidential runs like other VP frontrunners, and thus passes the ‘do no harm’ test for a running mate with flying colors. In many regards, she comes across as a relatively safe pick…

“Ideologically, she would be ‘simpatico’ with Biden. She’s a pragmatic moderate who focuses on bread and butter issues, rather than engaging in culture wars. She’s battle-tested in every sense, and her moment in the sun has presented her with the opportunity to showcase her integrity, resilience and humanity. While Biden might be encouraged to take a risk and choose Warren, Harris, or [Atlanta Mayor Keisha] Lance Bottoms to excite voters, Duckworth is likely a safer route to Pennsylvania Avenue.”
Joshua Zitser, Spectator USA

“California congresswoman Karen Bass [D-CA] likewise meets several of Biden’s needs. The chair of the powerful Congressional Black Caucus, Bass wields considerable influence among Democrats on the Hill, has deep political experience, and does not shy away from partisan fights. She is also solidly to Biden’s left across the board and would, the theory goes, engender enthusiasm among white progressives as well as black women…

“Speaking of Florida, allies of Sunshine State Congresswoman Val Demings [D-FL], a former Orlando police chief, have been waging an aggressive campaign on her behalf. Demings, unlike Bass, is not a member of the House Progressive Caucus and is, instead, more ideologically aligned with Biden. Progressives have pushed back on a Demings selection in the hopes of getting a left-wing VP, but Biden can count on left-wing voters to come home in pursuit of ousting Trump.”
Luke Thompson, Spectator USA

“The contrast in demeanor and tone [between Susan Rice and Val Demings] is pretty striking. Rice comes across as cold and negative, while there is a certain warmth and positivity to Demings. Rice hammers the Trump administration, calling [it] ‘racist to its core,’ and repeatedly denounces the ‘disgraceful despicable lies that this president tells.’ Demings, by contrast, seeks to establish a sense of empathy with viewers, discussing how she grew up in the South as the daughter of a maid and a janitor. ‘I know what racism feels like,’ she says…

“Asked if she’s seeking the VP slot, she tells Anderson Cooper: ‘I’m not sure I want the job as much as the job may want me.’… As an outsider and a natural politician, Demings seems to follow in the footsteps of candidate Barack Obama, while Rice, a creature of Washington, seems to be in the mold of Hillary Clinton.”
John McCormack, National Review

“Although it was Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, not Rice, who played the lead role in the decisions that led to the Benghazi attacks, Rice has been widely panned in conservative media as responsible for the embassy attack. A Biden selection would give Republicans an opportunity to resurrect Rice as their bogey-woman. But with Democrat voters, there’s a possibility those attacks could backfire…

“What would U.S. foreign policy look like with Biden and Rice working in the West Wing again? ‘Even if she is not chosen as Biden’s VP, Rice would be in line for Secretary of State, or another position of that elevated nature. I’m aghast at the thought of her becoming president, because she’s such a hawk,’ said historian and investigative journalist Gareth Porter, in an interview with The American Conservative

“Porter pointed to Rice’s influence on the Obama administration decision to bomb Libya and Syria, as well as her push for escalation in Afghanistan and her support of aid to the Syrian rebels… [But] Given that Biden is campaigning on a ‘return to normalcy,’ the foreign policy of the last 30 years isn’t necessarily something that Biden views negatively.”
Barbara Boland, The American Conservative

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