This week, former Vice President Joe Biden announced a search committee to help name his running mate. He has already promised it will be a woman. A number of names have been floated and I have taken the liberty of creating this VP Nominee Scorecard as a useful tool for the committee to consider. I’m sure they appreciate my help.
Disclaimer: While every attempt at objectivity has been made in the drafting of this report card, it should be pointed out that I am not a Democrat, nor do I plan on voting for the Democrat nominee in November. Things can change, but that is not likely to be one that does. The grades I have assigned each candidate are based on my own biases, but also on how I truly believe each woman might impact Biden’s chances, as well as her ability to step up and become President if necessary. Finally, I have graded them on a classic bell curve, from A to F, hitting each grade in between, which I found particularly challenging. I’ll start at the bottom.
Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer
Why she is on anyone’s list of potential running mates is beyond me, but she is. Her imperialistic and inconsistent handling of the coronavirus lockdown in her state is the only thing most people outside of Michigan know about her. Whitmer shut down landscaping and lawn mowing businesses – one of the industries most able to work while social distancing – while continuing to allow public employees to landscape government facilities. She has attempted to restrict the ability of Michiganders to travel to their own secondary properties, to boat without a motor (why?) and to fish recreationally. She’s been the target of massive protests, and while her approval rating among Michigan voters is still positive, her reputation outside the state is not. GRADE: F
Former Georgia General Assembly Member Stacey Abrams
Earlier this week, I wrote Stacey Abrams’ Alternate Reality Tour, which pretty much sums up my thoughts on her self-promoted VP campaign. Abrams is very bright, and could be a rising star in her party if she demonstrated more grace in losing the 2018 Georgia Governor’s race and if she weren’t begging anyone who will listen to endorse her as Biden’s running mate. She is woefully unqualified, despite her “25 years of independent study of foreign policy.” She has only been elected by Georgia’s 89th district, though she served an impressive ten years and ascended to minority leader in the state house. She ran a close, but failed election campaign as Georgia’s governor. With no executive leadership experience, Abrams would not be ready to step in if the oldest President in history were to die in office. GRADE: F
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
Of the women on this list, Clinton is the most qualified. Her political career is as old as Biden’s. Clinton served on the committee investigating President Nixon during the Watergate scandal. She has practiced private law, served as first lady of Arkansas and of the United States, was twice elected to the United States Senate, twice ran for President and was Secretary of State for four years. She knows the players and the game, has the scars to prove it, and could – if called upon – competently execute the duties of President of the United States…. God forbid. That said, Clinton is an extremely polarizing figure – as much so as President Donald Trump. While she still has many supporters, about the same number absolutely despise her. Many in her party believe her time has passed and don’t wish to revisit the many Clinton scandals. If selected as Biden’s VP nominee, Clinton would be viewed as an opportunist, seeking to become President the only way she could – by default. Her selection would reignite calls for investigations, particularly now that so many of the investigations into Trump and his team have been shown to have been borne out of corruption. GRADE: D+
Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren
Senator Warren is a rock in the Democrat party. She can likely serve as Senator from Massachusetts for as long as she pleases. She is well educated, has a long and successful career in academia and is in her second term as senator. She is a former Republican, and while now quite liberal, is likely less liberal than she would have us believe. Warren is smart and could probably keep the nation afloat if she had to ascend to the Presidency. Still, she is polarizing, has been caught in lies (not uncommon for politicians) and has often tried to portray herself as something she probably isn’t. Many of Biden’s biggest donors consider a Biden-Warren ticket “unelectable.” Warren is considered divisive and is frankly just not that likeable. Her ranking in the middle of this list though, is more about those ahead of her being more likeable and centrist than about any particular shortcoming Warren may have. GRADE: C
California Senator Kamala Harris
Senator Harris has an impressive resumé, as do most on this list. She has rapidly ascended the political ranks, going from city attorney, to the first female district attorney of San Francisco, two-time California Attorney General and now United States Senator. Harris had a reputation as a tough prosecutor. She smiles a lot and she comes across as likeable. She is of Jamaican-American and Indian-American heritage and identifies as black. Her status as a minority female would be a boon for Biden’s chances. She’s youthful, vibrant and attractive – all things that would help balance out the ticket. Harris is likely someone who could step in and govern if necessary. She’s not without baggage. Throughout her career, Harris has been dogged by insinuations that she landed two high profile state commission posts because she was dating the man who appointed her. Willie Brown, at the time the Speaker of the California State Assembly, later admitted that he may have helped her career with the appointments. Despite a 30-year age difference, the two dated in the mid-90s. She’s also been criticized for being overly aggressive on drug-related prosecutions earlier in her career, while promoting criminal justice reform policies in her recent campaign for the Democrat Presidential nomination. She memorably attacked Biden on racial issues in a debate, while stating conspicuously that she did not believe he was a racist. Regardless, Harris would be a very complimentary “un-Biden” on the ticket and would add much-needed energy and excitement to his campaign. GRADE: B+
Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar
While not as exciting as Harris, Senator Klobuchar is the most common sense VP candidate Biden could select. After a corporate law career, Klobuchar served seven years as a county attorney and was named Minnesota Attorney of the Year by a publication called Minnesota Lawyer. In 2006, she became the first woman elected as United States Senator from Minnesota. She has since won twice more, with none of her three elections being close. While holding all the requisite liberal positions on major issues, Klobuchar is the most moderate of all the candidates who ran for the 2020 Democrat nomination. She comes across as genuine, not afraid to agree with a political rival (even President Trump), but not afraid of a fight either. The biggest knock on Klobuchar thus far is that multiple former staffers have described her as difficult to work for. She’s been accused of creating a “hostile work environment,” by harshly criticizing her staffers’ work, acting vindictively when they sought other jobs and requiring them to perform personal errands like folding her laundry or cleaning her house. Those accusations could become a real problem if Klobuchar is named to the ticket, but as you’ve seen, no candidate is without baggage. Klobuchar’s known baggage doesn’t include sex scandals or financial crimes. From an optical standpoint, she’s energetic and much younger than Biden. Their political ideologies are similar, and while it might broaden the ticket’s appeal to have a more liberal running mate, it’s also important that their positions align as much as possible. Klobuchar probably is the most acceptable to Independents and Republicans, and given Biden’s age, she could sway some of them to vote across party lines, envisioning a President Klobuchar in the Oval Office. GRADE: A