With less than 100 days until election day, Joe Biden is on course to become the 46th president of the United States, currently leading in every battleground state and the national polls. Biden’s main strength at this point is mainly based on Trump’s apparent weakness during a time the United States has been in urgent need of a decisive Commander-in-Chief. Biden is now set to reveal his pick for the vice presidency in the coming days.
Who Should Biden Pick for VP?
A suitable candidate for the VP slot ideally has strengths that conceal the presidential candidate’s weaknesses, for instance, with either experience, regional popularity, or ideology. For example, Mike Pence owes his vice presidency to his ideology, since Trump needed someone to address evangelical Christians and social conservatives. Biden’s vice presidency itself was due to the fact that Obama needed someone with extensive experience who could also appeal to the working class in key swing states.
Nonetheless, in the most recent past, the running mate pick seldom had a significant (negative) impact during election day, with the exception of John McCain’s selection of Sarah Palin in 2008. A status of exception applies to the current race as well, however. It is a race that has become Biden’s to lose. The Trump team is waiting for him to step into a certain pitfall that allows them to paint moderate Biden as a far-left uber progressive semi-communist.
Moreover, with Biden being at an advanced stage in his life, chances are he may only choose to run for one term or in the worst case may not be capable of performing his duties sufficiently during his first term. A younger face to his side can thus alleviate these concerns significantly. There is also the ongoing issue of racial injustice. Biden may be inclined to pick an African American vice-presidential candidate as a statement of solidarity and appeal to the African American vote – though Biden himself has that vote pretty much secured already in any case.
During the primaries, Biden already limited the range of potential picks by announcing his proclivity during the Democratic primaries for choosing a woman. The remaining options are vast, nonetheless.
In a piece from August 2019, I already noted that Kamala Harris would be a perfect candidate for Joe Biden. At that point, she had still been running for president in the Democratic primaries and impressed audiences and voters with her cerebral aptitude, charisma and moderate stance – which was refreshing to see during primaries and claims by some of the candidates, that often resembled Politburo gatherings.
In addition, Harris’ experience as Attorney General of California from 2011 to 2017 and as a Senator since 2017 also makes her a strong candidate for Biden’s nomination. Some have argued that her background in the judiciary could also be a burden for her, as cases and decisions from her career as a San Francisco prosecutor have been criticized by progressives many times. Her crime: As a prosecutor, she had dared to prosecute individuals—an outrage for the woke wing of the party. However, picking a female African-American would not only be a strong signal to the country but also a direct response to the demand for equality – a message even the far-left likely could not argue against. At the same time, it would be a positive sign for Biden’s moderate voters, as Harris is not suspected of being too far to the left. What also speaks in her favor is the fact that Democrats, historically, have chosen a senator in 19 of 23 times since 1928.
Susan Rice was the National Security Advisor and UN Ambassador to President Obama. The latter also makes her a viable and promising candidate. Like Biden, Rice is closely linked to the Obama administration’s foreign policy milestones, including the Iran Agreement and the Paris Climate Agreement. Biden and Rice can also look back on a political connection that goes back to the 1990s. However, what Rice lacks are a national profile and campaign experience. The latter is an absolute must since Biden will probably limit his appearances himself.
As a member of Congress, many US media outlets haven’t had Karen Bass on the screen for a long time, but her name has come up more often in recent weeks. The 66-year-old leads the assembly of African Americans in the US Congress, the Black Caucus. Her special topics are scorching: she calls for reform to end the disproportionate police violence against blacks, a moratorium on student debt and a national care pact. Bass and Biden hardly know each other personally, and so far it is hardly known nationwide. Both can change quickly, however, as Biden cannot afford to experiment and needs someone with a high profile.
Stacey Abrams was a member of the Georgia House of Representatives from 2007 to 2017. There she was also opposition leader for the Democrats from 2011 to 2017. In the 2018 governor election in Georgia, she ran for governorship but was defeated by her Republican challenger. The right to vote is a central issue in her policies. In doing so, she particularly pursues the goal of increasing voter turnout among African-Americans. Abrams, who grew up in Mississippi State and now lives in Georgia, could be the key to Biden’s success in the Southern States. She has been involved in the debate about Biden’s running-mate pick for months and has repeatedly said that she was very well suited to the job. However, just as it applies to Bass and Rice, Abrams has less experience with elections and politics than other potential candidates.
Amy Klobuchar has been a member of the State of Minnesota in the United States Senate since 2007. Until recently, she was Biden’s competitor in the Democratic campaign: after the first primaries, Klobuchar withdrew her — at one point surprisingly promising — candidacy for the presidency in early March and instead announced her support for Biden. Since then, she has performed at campaign events for the latter. As a potential vice candidate, Klobuchar brings the support of renowned US media from the primaries. It could also help Biden to come from one of the swing states in the Midwest.
Moreover, Klobuchar is a moderate and thus appealing to the working class in many other relevant states. However, as suitable as Klobuchar maybe – and she is – she has stated that Biden should pick an African-American woman, considering the current carnage in the United States. One can rest assured, that, even if Klobuchar does not end up being the vice-presidential candidate, Klobuchar will find her way into Biden’s cabinet in some other capacity. She simply is too talented of a politician to be left behind.
Biden’s former competitor for the Democratic nomination, Elizabeth Warren, has not taken a break since leaving the campaign. The Massachusetts senator picked up where her campaign ended: from health care reform to a corona pandemic to police reform – Elizabeth Warren has a plan for everything – so she believes. Warren was already in discussion for the post in 2016. Since Biden has prevailed against the uber-progressive Bernie Sanders, Warren, with her liberal and progressive politics, may seem like a solid choice to unite the movements within the Democratic Party. However, Warren remains the arguably greatest pitfall for Biden in this selection process, as she stands as a synonym for socialism and has close ties to Bernie Sanders.
Both individuals are simply persona non grata for many working-class Americans – and rightfully so. One must not forget, that the socialist message Warren as well as Sanders ran on, failed epically. The idea to now align his presidential campaign with these ghosts of the past and have people to contemplate whether they can give Biden their vote considering that Warren could well become his successor in a worst-case scenario, remains one thing in particular: a vote for Donald Trump.
Tammy Duckworth is a leading voice in national security and defence policy in her party. An American patriot. She lost both legs in the 2004 Iraq war when an armoured grenade hit her helicopter. Since then, she has been wearing prostheses and is partially dependent on a wheelchair.
The 52-year-old — who was born in Bangkok — thus normalizes unusual circumstances in everyday political life. She is one of Trump’s harshest critics, especially with regard to the soldiers. So she once said that she had fought her whole life for the well-being of the troops and would not be instructed by a “draft-dodger in the Oval Office.” Duckworth’s popularity has skyrocketed especially in the past few weeks after Tucker Carlson launched several personal attacks on her and questioned her patriotism.
Biden’s Many VP Options Give Him a Strong Path Forward
Despite the self-imposed limitations, Biden has solid options – and a great one in Kamala Harris. As long as Biden does not fall into the “woke Sarah Palin trap,” his chances will not decrease, and the race remains his to win. With Harris, however, Biden would add a genuine asset to his campaign, that has the chance to elevate his popularity and lead further, while also answering the call for racial equality.