Who are the candidates to be Joe Biden’s running mate?
By ALEXANDER BURNS
The New York Times|
Jun 22, 2020 at 11:01 AM
Joe Biden is deep into his search for a running mate. The process began with a list of more than a dozen potential candidates, all of them women. His team has narrowed that list, conducting multiple interviews and collecting sensitive personal documents from a number of the most important contenders.
Biden, 77, says he wants a running mate who is ready to assume the presidency, who shares his priorities and with whom he is “simpatico.” He is aiming to announce his choice by Aug. 1.
These are the women we know to be under consideration:
Bio: Senator from California since 2017; former presidential candidate; served as district attorney in San Francisco and state attorney general.
How seriously is she being considered? Very seriously. Harris, 55, is in an advanced stage of the vetting process and is seen as among the likeliest candidates to be chosen.
Signature issues: Proposed cutting middle-class taxes; recently advocated for policing reform; pushed a Senate bill to make lynching a federal crime; played a high-profile role in the confirmation hearings of Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh.
Relationship with Biden: Harris had a friendly relationship with Biden before they competed in the 2020 primaries, and Harris knew his late son, Beau, when they served as attorneys general. But Harris also attacked Biden more harshly than any other Democrat in the 2020 race, rebuking him in the first televised debate for having worked with segregationist senators to oppose school busing policies in the 1970s.
Pros and cons: Harris is among the best-known Black women in American politics, with appeal to both moderates and liberals. But she ran an unsteady presidential campaign last year and struggled with questions about her law-enforcement record. The way she and her advisers handled the 2020 primary left some in the Biden campaign with significant reservations.
On being considered for vice president: “I know that conversation is taking place in the press and among the pundits, and I’m honored to even be considered, if that’s the case.”
Bio: Senator from Massachusetts since 2013; former presidential candidate; former Harvard Law School professor and bankruptcy expert; architect of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
How seriously is she being considered? Very seriously. Warren, 70, is among the strongest contenders and she has reached an advanced stage of the vetting process.
Signature issues: Has long criticized wealth concentration and corporate power; proposed plans to break up big companies, tax the extremely rich and use proceeds to fund new social benefits; recently called for investigations of how the Trump administration has distributed economic stimulus money and pushed a measure to strip the names of Confederate generals from military bases.
Relationship with Biden: Warren and Biden have a relationship of mutual respect, framed by significant ideological differences. When Biden was a senator and Warren a Harvard professor, they clashed in a Senate hearing over bankruptcy regulation. But when Biden was mulling a campaign for president in 2016, he met with Warren privately and considered the idea of asking her to run with him.
Pros and cons: Warren would bring sterling progressive credentials and a forceful economic message to Biden’s ticket. But she does not represent racial or generational diversity, and her populist record could unnerve some moderates.
On being considered for vice president: “I’m focused right now on this crisis.”
Keisha Lance Bottoms
Bio: Mayor of Atlanta since 2018; served two terms on the Atlanta City Council.
How seriously is she being considered? Very seriously. Bottoms, 50, has been interviewed by the Biden team and she has drawn even closer review as her national profile has grown in recent weeks.
Signature issues: Among the most prominent city leaders grappling with the coronavirus pandemic and answering the calls for police reform and racial justice; quickly called for the firing of the officer who fatally shot Rayshard Brooks and then announced new restrictions on the use of force by police; made criminal justice reform a major priority, including strictly limiting the use of cash bail.
Relationship with Biden: Bottoms was an early supporter of Biden in the presidential race, serving as a fiercely loyal campaign surrogate, even when he was down in the polls.
Pros and cons: Bottoms has cut an impressive figure during a national reckoning over race and policing, and she hails from a crucial political battleground. But her short time in high office could be an obstacle.
On being considered for vice president: “It’s going to be important for Joe Biden to have a strong VP who can help him heal our nation and lead our nation, and it’s going to be important to have a person beside him who can help him defeat Donald Trump.”
Bio: Representative from Florida since 2017; served as police chief in Orlando after a long career there as an officer.
How seriously is she being considered? Very seriously. Demings, 63, has been interviewed at length and is being vetted intensively by the Biden team.
Signature issues: Has been an outspoken voice in the House on issues related to gun control and law enforcement; served as an impeachment manager in the Senate trial of President Donald Trump.
Relationship with Biden: Demings and Biden do not have a long-standing relationship, but they campaigned together for Florida Democrats during the 2018 elections.
Pros and cons: Demings is a strong campaigner with a résumé that matches the moment, and she comes from a crucial part of the country’s biggest swing state. But she has not been closely vetted by the press and her experience in elected office is relatively brief.
On being considered for vice president: “I hope, regardless of how it turns out, that when boys and girls and young men and women around this nation hear my personal story and they’ve been told that they can’t make it for whatever reason, that they will be inspired.”
Bio: National security adviser and ambassador to the United Nations under President Barack Obama.
How seriously is she being considered? Very seriously. Rice, 55, is among the candidates furthest along in the vetting process.
Signature issues: Closely identified with the Obama administration’s foreign policy breakthroughs, including the Iran nuclear deal and the Paris climate agreement; recently called for statehood for Washington, D.C.
Relationship with Biden: Rice served with Biden in the Obama administration for eight years, and their working relationship dates back to the 1990s when Rice was an assistant secretary of state and Biden was on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Pros and cons: Rice’s international experience would leave little doubt that she is ready for the most sensitive parts of the job. But she has never been a candidate before and the learning curve of a national campaign can be a steep one.
On being considered for vice president: “I’m humbled and honored to be among the extremely accomplished women who are reportedly being considered in that regard.”
Michelle Lujan Grisham
Bio: Governor of New Mexico since 2019; served three terms in Congress and was chairwoman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus; former New Mexico secretary of health.
How seriously is she being considered? Pretty seriously. Lujan Grisham, 60, is probably the top candidate among the governors and she has been asked to submit documents for vetting.
Signature issues: Enacted sweeping clean-energy legislation and a minimum wage hike as governor; pushed for major liberal priorities like free public college; now heavily focused on containing the coronavirus outbreak and managing the damage of an economic recession.
Relationship with Biden: Lujan Grisham and Biden do not have a close relationship. He endorsed her candidacy for governor in 2018.
Pros and cons: Lujan Grisham appears to be the only Latina candidate under consideration, with the potential to give Biden a boost across the Southwest. She has a compelling story to tell about leading a state through a national crisis, but she is a lower-profile leader than many of the other candidates in the mix.
On being considered for vice president: “What I hope the Biden campaign continues to do is to look for not just a VP pick, but to be really clear in building a Cabinet and an agenda for America, that these are folks who can run government.”
Bio: Senator from Illinois since 2017; served two terms in the House; former director of the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs; a retired Army lieutenant colonel and helicopter pilot who lost both legs in combat while serving in Iraq.
How seriously is she being considered? Pretty seriously. Duckworth, 52, has been interviewed by the Biden team and she has been asked to submit documents for vetting.
Signature issues: Has been a prominent spokeswoman for her party on national security and the concerns of veterans and military families; championed policies to protect people with disabilities.
Relationship with Biden: Duckworth does not have an especially close relationship with Biden, but as vice president he backed her 2016 candidacy to unseat a Republican senator, Mark Kirk. Duckworth introduced Biden’s late son, Beau, as a speaker at the 2008 Democratic National Convention.
Pros and cons: Duckworth’s personal story could be powerful in a presidential campaign; she would be the first veteran on a national ticket since John McCain, and the first female veteran ever. She has a less prominent voice on some of the issues most central to the campaign, like policing and the economy.
On being considered for vice president: “I personally have always answered the call when my country has asked me to serve.”
Bio: Senator from Wisconsin since 2013; served seven terms in the House; the first openly gay person to win a seat in the Senate.
How seriously is she being considered? Somewhat seriously. Baldwin, 58, has been interviewed by the Biden team and she is seen as a politically safe choice for the job.
Signature issues: Has championed universal health care for decades and other changes to the health care system; has been an important voice on trade and manufacturing, and a critic of China’s trade practices.
Relationship with Biden: Baldwin and Biden do not have a deep relationship, but she served in the Senate during his second term as vice president and they campaigned together in both the 2012 and 2018 elections, when Baldwin was on the ballot.
Pros and cons: Baldwin would bring populist credentials and local popularity that could help deliver Wisconsin’s crucial Electoral College votes to Biden. But Baldwin is relatively little known nationally and many Democrats might object to an all-white ticket.
On being considered for vice president: “I haven’t ruled it out.”
Bio: Governor of Michigan since 2019; former Democratic leader in the Michigan state Senate; delivered the Democratic response to President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address in February.
How seriously is she being considered? Somewhat seriously. Whitmer, 48, has acknowledged she has had contact with the Biden search team, but seems like a less prominent candidate than she was a few months ago.
Signature issues: Ran for governor on a platform of rebuilding Michigan’s broken roads, raising the minimum wage and investing in education: has grappled with the coronavirus pandemic reshaping her administration, putting public health and budgetary challenges at the center of her agenda.
Relationship with Biden: Whitmer has described herself as having been friends with Biden for years, and he endorsed her campaign for governor in 2018. She returned the favor before the Michigan presidential primary in March.
Pros and cons: Whitmer is a popular young leader from an important swing state, who has played a major role in responding to the coronavirus. But she would not bring racial diversity to the ticket and she has faced Republican attacks at home for engaging in national politics.
On being considered for vice president: “I am making a little bit of time to stay connected to the campaign but the most important thing that I have to do right now is be the governor of my home state.”
Bio: Former Democratic leader in the Georgia House of Representatives before narrowly losing a race for governor in 2018; the leader of an advocacy group, Fair Fight Action, focused on voting rights.
How seriously is she being considered? Not too seriously. Some senior Democrats are supportive of Abrams, 46, but she does not seem to be a priority for the Biden team right now.
Signature issues: Has championed voting rights; advocated for expanding health care at the state level during her time in the legislature and worked with then-Gov. Nathan Deal, a Republican, on criminal justice reform.
Relationship with Biden: Abrams and Biden do not have a long-standing relationship, but they met privately last year as Biden was weighing his decision to enter the 2020 race and his advisers were floating the idea of announcing a running mate during the Democratic primaries.
Pros and cons: Abrams is an agile political messenger with a strong national following. But the highest office she has held is state legislator, raising questions about her readiness.
On being considered for vice president: “I would be an excellent running mate. I have the capacity to attract voters by motivating typically ignored communities.”
Bio: Governor of Rhode Island since 2015; served as state treasurer; former venture capital executive; was chair of the Democratic Governors Association in 2019.
How seriously is she being considered? Not too seriously. Raimondo, 49, has had some contact with the Biden team but she does not seem to be as far along in the process as others.
Signature issues: Has made economic development her central cause, frequently pushing her party to adopt a more pointed message on economic opportunity and job creation; overhauled the state’s unstable public-pension system, a political victory that yielded lasting bad blood with some labor unions.
Relationship with Biden: Raimondo and Biden are cut from the same ideological cloth, and Biden has campaigned for her in the past. But Raimondo endorsed a different moderate in the Democratic primaries: Michael R. Bloomberg.
Pros and cons: Raimondo may be more closely aligned with Biden in her political sensibilities than anyone else in the running. But she is viewed with distrust by the left and some important Democratic labor unions, and she is relatively untested as a national figure.
On being considered for vice president: “Let me just say this. I’m spending zero time on politics right now.”
Bio: Senator from New Hampshire since 2017; served as governor there from 2013-17 and was previously the Democratic leader in the New Hampshire state Senate.
How seriously is she being considered? Not too seriously. Hassan, 62, agreed to be vetted by the Biden team but it is not clear that her candidacy has moved much past that point.
Signature issues: Has focused on health care and drug addiction; as governor, expanded Medicaid at the state level, and in the Senate, sponsored large-scale legislation addressing the opioid crisis.
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Relationship with Biden: Like most top Democrats in the crucial primary state of New Hampshire, Hassan has known Biden for some time. They are not especially close but he consistently praised her during visits to the state last year.
Pros and cons: Hassan has strong credentials as a governor and senator from a state Hillary Clinton barely won in 2016. But she is barely known outside New Hampshire. If she were elected vice president, a Republican governor would name her replacement.
On being considered for vice president: “I am not going to comment about his process, whatever that may be. My focus each and every day continues to be serving the people of NH in the US Senate.”
Withdrew: Amy Klobuchar
The Minnesota senator announced on June 18 that she had withdrawn from the search process, after renewed scrutiny of her record as a prosecutor greatly diminished her chances.
When protests swept her home state after the killing of George Floyd, Klobuchar found herself struggling to explain why she had not done more to take on police misconduct as district attorney. Pulling out of the VP search, Klobuchar said she urged Biden in a phone call to choose a woman of color for the ticket.