Washington, D.C. — With Senator Bernie Sanders suspending his campaign for the 2020 presidential nomination, the presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden now has the task of selecting a potential running mate. Biden has repeatedly pledged he would pick a woman and name his choice well ahead of the Democratic convention in August.
Selecting a running mate is always critical for a presidential candidate. But it’s an especially urgent calculation for the 77-year-old Biden. Should he win the election in November, he would be the oldest American president in history. In addition to facing pressure on multiple fronts, he must consider the demands of his widely diverse party. That would include balancing those concerns with his stated desire for a governing partner who is “simpatico” and “ready to be president on a moment’s notice”.
Biden has offered plenty of hints about his thinking. He’s said he can easily name 12 to 15 women who meet his criteria, but would likely seriously consider anywhere from six to 11 candidates. He’s given no indication of whether he’ll look to the Senate, where he spent six terms, or elsewhere.
Biden has regularly praised California senator Kamala Harris, a former rival who endorsed him in March and campaigned for him. When she introduced him at a recent fundraiser, Biden did little to tamp down speculation about her prospects. He’s also spoken positively of Stacey Abrams, though she lost the 2018 Georgia governor’s race.
At 55, Harris is talented and popular with Democratic donors, a valuable commodity for a nominee with a fundraising weakness. But she’s also a former prosecutor who faces the same skepticism among progressives as Biden. Meanwhile, her home state is already firmly in the Democratic column and could make her an easy target for Republicans eager to blast the party as too liberal.
Abrams, 46, is a star for many younger Democrats, a group Biden struggled to win over in the primary. The highest post she’s ever held is minority leader in the Georgia House of Representatives, a possible vulnerability in a time of crisis.
Minnesota senator Amy Klobuchar, who endorsed Biden with great results before Super Tuesday. He went on to win Minnesota, despite never having campaigned there. New Mexico governor Michelle Lujan Grisham is the Democrats’ only non-white female governor. Biden could go beyond Washington to Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer. She’s won plaudits during the pandemic and meshes with Biden’s pragmatic sensibilities, winning her post in 2018 with promises to “fix the damn roads.”
And then, there’s the strong possibility Biden could pull his usual backtrack and change direction to name New York Governor Andrew Cuomo as his running mate. Cuomo would give Biden perhaps the credibility he currently lacks on the coronavirus issue. Cuomo is a seasoned politician, which would benefit the Oval Office should the elderly Biden become ill.
Other possible Vice-President candidates for the Democratic hopeful, but probably dark horse selections, would be – Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren, Nevada senator Catherine Cortez Masto, or Florida House member Val Demings.
Warren, at 70, has waffled somewhat in her support for Medicare for All. She was definitely a vocal supporter of a government-run program for much of her presidential bid. Masto has a very powerful advocate in Harry Reid, who recently told Biden that would be his pick for VP. Prior to coming to Congress, Demings was the first female police chief in Orlando, Florida. She was one of seven House Democrats chosen by Nancy Pelosi to serve as managers during the impeachment trial of President Trump.