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Picking the Winner in the Biden VP Contest

It’s on. 

            The primary is over and Democrat wannabes are now jockeying to play backup to Joe Biden on the November ticket.  As you can imagine, Vegas is taking bets.

            The odds-on favorite in this contest is Kamala Harris, the junior Senator from California.  She is an attractive candidate in a lot of ways.  As an African-America woman, she would fill two demographics for a party that obsesses over such things, she already has a national profile, and she is knowledgeable on the issues (please note: being knowledgeable on the issues does not equate being right on the issues).  Additionally, Joe Biden has already hinted at plans for her.

            She’s not the only one Vegas is taking bets on though.  Governor Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan, failed candidate for Georgia Governor Stacey Abrams, Senator Elizabeth Warren, and Senator Amy Klobuchar are all names being bandied about.

            So, if you’re the betting type, who should you place your money on?  Well, there are three things you should keep an eye on. 

            First, whoever Biden picks needs to be able to fill in his weaknesses as a candidate.  Let’s be honest; this is a tall order.  He has a lot of weaknesses.  One of these is that he isn’t the best fundraiser.  While the end of the primaries mitigates some of that since he doesn’t have to compete with other Democrats for those dollars, he still faces a huge deficit when compared to President Trump. 

Another deficit is that he’s a terrible public speaker.  He is a self-identified gaff machine with evidence of that dating all the way back to his time in the Senate.  More recently, he has trouble finishing a sentence (more on the reason for that later).  He stutters his way through, joins disconnected thoughts together, and a lot of times just verbally wanders off in some random direction.

Another weakness his VP will have to fill is an overwhelming lack of charisma.  He just isn’t that likable.  Now, to be fair, he’s not someone that you automatically dislike either (like Hillary Clinton), he’s just forgettable, not extraordinary one way or the other.  A very telling sign here is Twitter.  If you log on and look at Biden’s account, you will see he has 4.9 million followers.  Contrast this with President Trump’s account which has well over 70 million.  You can see a big difference in who people actually want to pay attention to.

Second, if you’re the betting type, you should look for someone who can allay the nations fears of a Biden Presidency.  In other words, this person needs to be able to take over as President if and when the need arises.  The dude’s old.  If elected, Biden will be the oldest President in this nation’s history.  He is currently 77 and will be 78 at the time of his inauguration.  The current record is held by Trump, who is 73. 

Now, that’s only a few years difference, but it doesn’t tell the whole story.  Trump has the appearance and energy of a much younger man.  He maintains an incredible work pace that those around him struggle to keep up with.  Biden, on the other hand, wears all 77 of his years for all the world to see.  He moves slow, he talks slow, he talks about record players and other things far out of date as if they were things of today.  These two will eventually stand side by side together when the Presidential debates roll around.  When that happens, the difference in their years will appear to be twenty, not just four.

Another factor here is Biden’s mental capabilities.  As mentioned earlier, Biden has trouble speaking.  He can’t put words together and stumbles every inch of the way.  Some have noticed his overreliance on teleprompters.  The guy can’t seem to get through a five-minute interview with a friendly media without losing his train of thought.  Trump on the other hand, makes a habit of engaging the hostile media in long sessions and is on point and adaptive to changing situations.  Now, I’m not a mental health expert, but I and others have noticed that Biden seems to be suffering from the early stages of dementia or some sort of mental deterioration and his campaign has yet to address these fears in any way.  It may be that they can’t.  It may be that their method of addressing it will be a VP pick who can step in if these fears turn out to be true.

Finally, for those who want to get on the Vegas train, Biden’s VP pick needs to be able to attract voters.  The primary reason for this is Biden can’t.  As mentioned above, Biden is extremely lacking in any charisma of his own. 

Now, there are two ways in which attracting new voters can help the ticket in November.  First, this VP pick can simply win over undecided voters or maybe even attract voters away from Trump.  While Democrats appear to have a lock on minority votes, this VP slot could target religious groups that typically go Republican, suburban voters, or some of the blue collar workers that Trump won last time. 

More likely, this VP pick should have some sort of regional appeal.  In 2016 Trump removed several bricks from the proverbial “Blue Wall” that had won the Whitehouse for Obama in the previous two elections.  Without that wall, Hillary Clinton lost to Trump despite a popular vote victory.  The electoral college matters and Biden isn’t going to win it by running up his vote count in California and New York where his victory is assured no matter who his VP is.  He needs to win back the voters in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, and Florida.  The voters Clinton ignored last time.

So, if you’re making bets on who Biden will pick for his VP, you should look for a candidate who can fill in Biden’s weaknesses, allay the country’s fears about Biden’s age and health, and attract enough voters to win in the key states.

Of course, all of this is predicated on the assumption that Biden will do the smart thing.  And that’s a bet I would never take.

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