With Joe Biden as the presumptive Democratic nominee, he now has to (gets to? Has to.) decide who he wants as a running mate. Normally, the list of potential candidates for the job would contain any and every big name Democrat on the national stage. But Biden’s search for vice president has a special requirement that limits the potential candidates more than usual.
Sexual harassment allegations toward Biden have shaken his campaign. Biden has been accused of inappropriate contact, such as unnecessary touching or unwanted hugs, by several women. Biden has responded to the claims of inappropriate contact by saying he was unaware the women were uncomfortable and that he has always been a very “friendly and familiar person” in terms of physical contact.
Recently, Tara Reade, a former Senate staffer to Biden in the 1990s, publicly accused the former vice president of sexually assaulting her in 1993. Two women have come forward to corroborate Reade’s story, despite rapid denials of it by Biden staffers and aides. This past Friday, Biden himself released a statement categorically denying it. The statement was an interesting combination of Biden saying that women who come forward should be treated with dignity and “heard not silenced,” and him saying that it didn’t happen, that no staffers at the time remembered her coming to them with any concerns and that no journalists had been able to find anyone to corroborate her story.
Regardless of the recent statement, all this has shaken Biden’s support among women. Biden seems to believe that by picking a woman as his running mate, he can resolidify his support among women and dissuade any concerns the allegations toward him may have caused. Though in reality, it will be far more complicated than that. No matter what Joe Biden may believe, the combination of Biden’s history of overly-familiar contact with women and Reade’s allegation casts a definite shade of doubt of his campaign, especially since it means that the candidates for both major political parties in 2020 will have sexual assault allegations against them. The fact of the matter is, simply picking a woman as his running matter will not eliminate any concern over Biden’s past or his character.
It is important to note that sexual assault is not a lighthearted matter and it should be treated with the respect and gravitas it deserves. All this makes it a difficult topic to cover in a more casual, lighthearted column such as this. With that in mind, I will now attempt to graceless-ly transition out of that discussion into a more characteristic lighthearted discussion, not of the allegations toward Biden, but of the women he may pick as his running mate.
Governors, senators, congresswomen, former members of the Obama administration, and even some state level officials are viable candidates for the job. Of course, there are a few names that have risen to the top. They are presented here in no particular order because I don’t have that level of political insight, no matter what my grandmother may think.
Remember in 2018 and earlier in this election when the progressive wing of the Democratic Party was real fired up? Well, you better hope Joe Biden gets fired up too, because you better believe he’s going to need them to defeat Trump. And that would be the main attraction of putting her up for vice president. The liberal lion won the hearts of many a hopeful young Democrat with her political savvy, charisma and unmatched attention to detail in platform-making. If Biden made Warren his vice president and she put some of her plan-making skills to use on his campaign, well, then his campaign just might get a few more friendly looks on campuses like Northwestern and from this column.
If anyone understands the concept of flyover states, it’s Amy Klobuchar, the senator from Minnesota, a state that blends into Canada so easily that I often forget about it despite Amy constantly reminding us what it’s like there. Let’s not beat around the bush here. The Democrats got kicked in the teeth in 2016 in the Midwest (and frankly all over the map), and while they pulled it back a little in 2018, that was a midterm and this is a presidential election, two very different ball games. Amy Klobuchar is a big name in the region, and would likely be a big step toward rebuilding support there ahead of November. She got a lot of attention for being the “fun mom” of the primary. She’ll keep things light with quips and mom jokes of middling quality all day, but can go after her opponents with intense ferocity. She’d be representing the more moderate side of the party, a side already well represented by Joe Biden, but a true left-wing Democrat joining Biden on the ticket seems unlikely. The big news with Amy Klobuchar is she was recently on Joe Biden’s podcast. Oh yeah. Joe Biden has a podcast. As if we weren’t going through enough already, Joe.
Apparently presidents have to sometimes deal with other countries. At times like those, it helps to have someone with experience in that area. And that’s where President Obama’s former national security adviser comes in. Joe Biden has some experience in diplomacy, but it’s Susan Rice’s bread and butter. Plus, her background makes her a slightly less political figure, preemptively heading off a small fraction of the kinds of questions Biden would get by putting up a Congresswoman or one of his former co-candidates. She’s also the one I know the least about, so her getting picked as vice president would mean I would have to start doing some research for this column.
This one kind of surprised me at first. Kamala Harris routinely served Joe Biden’s ass back to him on the debate stage to genuinely impressive degrees, and yet, her name is the one brought up most often. And it actually makes some sense. She’s a popular figure and makes Biden’s sure victory in California even surer. Her background as attorney general helps support any law-and-order arguments made in favor of Biden, arguments that weren’t particularly struggling to begin with. Plus, being African American (and Indian American), Harris could help Biden keep ahold of the black vote, a demographic whose support of the vice president has never really faltered. In short, Kamala Harris seems to be Biden’s solution to a series of image and support problems that haven’t happened and probably won’t.
Stacey Abrams has made her desire to be Biden’s vice president known in every way possible (besides walking up to Joe Biden and asking for it directly). The former Georgia state senate minority leader became a national name during her failed run for the Georgia governor’s office in 2018. Since then, she’s maintained a national profile as a strong, earnest, rising star in the Democratic Party. While she is a possible candidate for vice president, lately, her name has been drowned out in favor of Atlanta’s mayor, Keisha Lance Bottoms, after her pushback against Georgia governor Brian Kemp’s decision to reopen parts of the Georgia economy. So we’ll see how both of those Georgia battles play out in the coming weeks. Abrams’s name remains on most lists of possibilities, but always near the bottom. To be fair, as a recent New York magazine piece pointed out, Abrams is still a new player on the national stage, and as such, has yet to develop the kind of connections that would give her people to privately advocate for her. Plus, a lot of people attest to the importance of stating your wishes clearly and directly, so maybe Abrams has the right idea.
All that being said, Biden’s campaign hasn’t even formed an official vetting team or a short list yet, meaning we probably will not hear a decision on this until late summer. So get ready for a few months of politicos making meaningless predictions, something this column will not be doing except to say, if I were Biden, my short list would be Julia Louis Dreyfus, Greta Gerwig and Meghan Markle.
And my pick would be Elizabeth Warren.
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