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The Biden Veepstakes: No Clear Leader Yet

It’s been a while since we’ve done an update on Joe Biden’s veepstakes, and there’s a good reason for it: nothing much has happened. The same leaders – Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris – keep being bandied about, and the Democratic candidate doesn’t appear to be any closer to making his choice.

Politico recently published an article suggesting that Biden is up against a conundrum in choosing a running mate. In the piece, Ryan Lizza writes that Biden is looking for a vice presidential candidate who is “loyal, trusted, experienced, apolitical, someone with whom he will bond.”

There’s a bit of harsh realism to the veepstakes as well, in that Biden’s age is a factor, which means that his choice is even more important. His campaign wants to find someone who can step into the Oval Office with ease if something were to happen to Biden while he’s in office.

With these factors in mind, Lizza explores the top two. Elizabeth Warren appears to be an easy choice if you’re looking for someone who can take the reigns of power, but her far-left statements and positions could be a liability, particularly as opposed to Trump.

Lizza quotes a campaign strategist:

The strategist said that Warren “checks the box of can-be-president tomorrow. The question for Elizabeth is whether it’s too much octane for the tank. Trump is desperately looking to turn Biden into a scary radical lefty. He can’t do that so his tactic is to make him seem like a tool of the scary radical lefty. She would become the nominee for president in the mind of Republicans. Trump will say, ‘Biden is so old that he won’t survive a year and she is going to be calling the shots and then she will be president.’”

What about Kamala Harris? She appears to be the most solid candidate in terms of demography, but insiders worry that she wouldn’t put her own ambitions aside to go along with Biden. Strategists also have concerns that Harris could keep her eyes too focused on 2024 to be truly loyal to a Biden administration.

Another Democratic strategist agreed Harris was likely the default pick and noted that just running for president was a major asset. “She’s kind of the path of least resistance,” he said. “She’s a woman of color, she has enough experience, she has been through the process before. One of the many things that Obama liked about Biden is that he had been through the maelstrom.”

There are plenty of candidates who look good on paper but have “but”s in their resumes, as Warren and Harris show. Another candidate, who doesn’t appear at or near the top of many lists but whom Biden has vetted is Gina Raimondo, the Governor of Rhode Island. She’s young, ethnic, and solidly center-left, but is she enough for the far left of the party?

Biden does have to weigh the notion of uniting disparate forces among the Democrats, which makes the choice of a running mate a tall order. Lizza suggests a dark horse who might be a smart option: Obama’s national security adviser Susan Rice.

Rice has her attractive points on paper. She’s another link to the Obama years, and she has her foreign policy bona fides. She’s a minority, and she worked alongside Biden in the Obama administration. Looking through that lens, Lizza quotes another insider:

“Put yourself in the mind of Joe Biden,” said one Democratic strategist. “Who is Joe Biden? He spent his entire adult life in the United States Senate. He’s a foreign policy maven. He really takes it seriously. So when he says I need someone on Day One to take over, that specifically means they can deal with China and Russia on Day One. To me that means it’s not going to be a mayor. And maybe not even a governor. He has a bias towards senators. But it also has to be next generation. So not Warren, who is 71. She performed significantly under expectations. That would lead you to two senators: Kamala Harris and Tammy Duckworth. Who else meets that mold? Susan Rice: ready on Day One for Russia and China.”

At the end of the day, we’re no closer to knowing whom Biden will choose. But the sand is running out of the hourglass, and Biden needs to make a decision. Stay tuned as we keep our ears to the ground waiting for an announcement or more information.

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