Putative Democratic nominee Joe Biden’s vice presidential
choice will likely be made and announced in the next two weeks.
Because he indicated (but did not pledge) he would select a
woman of color, most speculation has been about a number of
black elected women across the country --- although the
Hispanic governor of New Mexico, Michelle Lujan Grisham,
and Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, have been
regarded among the dozen or so finalists. Congresswoman
Karen Bass of California is only the latest of a number of
mostly hitherto nationally-unknown black women politicians
to be touted for the job.
Trying to second-guess a nominee’s running mate choice is a
difficult matter, and my own record is very mixed at best. I did
write that Joe Biden was Barack Obama’s best choice in the
summer of 2008, but more often than not, I got it wrong over
the years, and in 2016 I did not even try very hard.
This cycle, the Democratic vice presidential nominee is
arguably more important than usual, presumably because Mr.
Biden would be 78 in 2021.
Several months ago, after Biden’s nomination was assured, I
wrote that California Senator Kamala Harris was the most
likely choice. This was before Mr. Biden took an apparent lead
in his race against President Trump. Others predicted Biden
would throw a “Hail Mary” with a lesser-known figure in an
effort to catch up. Well-known figures such as Oprah Winfrey,
Michelle Obama, and Susan Rice were also mentioned.
Since that time, many in the media and most pollsters have
asserted that Mr. Trump is now behind. (whether this is
true, and if so, by how much, is a separate discussion, but for
now this is the conventional wisdom).
Assuming that the Biden campaign agrees that they are indeed
ahead, I think a “Hail Mary” veep choice is quite unlikely.
When ahead, it is psychologically difficult to risk one’s
advantage with controversy. The natural inclination is to go
with safe choices. Senator Harris is that perhaps more than
anyone else --- a former presidential candidate. a black woman,
young, and acceptable to most wings of her party.
Having said that, in this unpredictable year, the final choice
could be someone else.
But whomever the final choice is, they will be subjected to
many days of scrutiny, especially about their ability to assume
the presidency on short notice.
An abbreviated national convention will than take place in
Milwaukee, followed by the traditional Labor Day campaign
kick-off, the presidential and vice presidential debates --- and
the next thing you know, it’s election day!
Copyright (c) 2020 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.