The Democratic vice presidential sweepstakes have heated to a boil with Congressional Black Caucus Chair Karen Bass (D-Calif.), former U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice, and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) presumably the front-runners.
Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden plans to announce his decision before the party’s convention on Aug. 17.
Biden has remained tight-lipped about which direction he’s leaning. He initially stated he’d announce his choice by Aug. 1, but vetting, interviews, and reviews of candidates have taken longer than originally thought.
Further, Biden’s inner-circle appears split on who should join him at the top of the ticket. He has maintained that the individual “should be ready to step into the role of president from Day 1.”
It’s believed that a large field of nearly two dozen has narrowed to as few as three.
Reading the tea leaves — or various news publications — suggests that Bass, Rice and Harris have made the final round.
Civil rights attorney Ben Crump penned an op-ed on CNN.com pushing Harris, while The Washington Post questioned why Biden would consider Rice, and the New York Times and Fox News zeroed in on Bass. Incidentally, the BBC featured a significant article on Illinois Sen. Tammy Duckworth.
“This is a time for steely-eyed public servants who play no games and demand results,” Crump wrote. “It’s time for Sen. Kamala Harris to join Joe Biden’s ticket and, God willing, help him actualize the next phase of this movement from the White House.”
On Rice, Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank wrote: “If Biden is actually considering Rice for the job — I suspect the boomlet is more about building her profile for another future post — it would be a costly mistake.”
Regarding Bass, the New York Times wrote that “she, in particular, has moved rapidly toward the top of Mr. Biden’s list amid an intensive lobbying drive by her fellow House Democrats, and has impressed the former vice president’s search committee.”
Former CBC Chair Cedric Richmond (D-La.), one of Biden’s campaign chairs and a close ally of Bass, said, “There’s going to be an awful lot to do starting on Day 1, so I think it’s important to have somebody who can be focused on that task and not running for president as soon as we finish the inauguration.”
In March, Biden declared that he would select a woman as his running mate. After capturing South Carolina, a win that catapulted his campaign, Biden rolled up the delegate count by sweeping through Nevada and dominating Super Tuesday and Super Tuesday II.
The list of potential running mates swelled to nearly two dozen, with Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar.
Because the African American vote counts as critical, Biden’s inclusion in the sweepstakes of Harris, former Georgia Rep. Stacey Abrams, Florida Rep. Val Demings and other Black women ramped up speculation that a Black woman would get the nod.
After the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, pressure for Biden to select an African American mounted. Klobuchar removed herself from consideration and declared the nod “should go to an African American woman.”
The Times reported that one Democrat close to Biden’s campaign said its polling indicated that Harris “has little allure with Black voters.” More telling, a Biden campaign official reached out to The New York Times, unprompted, to say that some of the former vice president’s staff members are not supportive of her.
The newspaper reported that Biden’s advisers have “guided him in the direction of Bass, who’s highly regarded in her home state.”
With Richmond holding a key position in the Biden camp, and several Democratic lawmakers pushing for Bass, the California representative now appears to have a leg up on the competition.
Rep. Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey, a centrist leader of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus, called Bass “a bridge-builder” who “wants to figure out how to get to yes,” according to the Times.
Rep. Ro Khanna of California, an outspoken progressive, was equally succinct: “She’d be a pick that every part of the Democratic coalition would respect and be excited about.”