veepstakes
August 11, 2020

The pick is in.

After months of anticipation, former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, selected Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) as his running mate in the race against President Trump, his campaign announced in a text message to supporters Tuesday. Biden also tweeted the news.

Harris was long considered a favorite for the the role, and the senator wound up beating out a host of other contenders including, but not limited to, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.), Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D), and former National Security Adviser Susan Rice, who had emerged as another top choice in recent weeks.

Biden and Harris clashed during some of the Democratic primary debates, but the two have reportedly enjoyed a good relationship before and since then.

Harris is the first Black woman and first Indian woman to appear on a major party's presidential ticket. Tim O'Donnell

August 11, 2020

Democrats announced the lineup of speakers at next week's Democratic National Convention on Tuesday, and all the usual suspects are included — former President Barack Obama, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), and several ex-presidential candidates, like Sens. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.).

But there's one name missing from the list that has pundits in a tizzy: Susan Rice, the Obama-era diplomat who is reportedly a top pick for vice president.

Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden hasn't announced his runningmate yet, and as he continues to punt the announcement, speculation has been escalating. He's already committed to selecting a woman, and is under some pressure to select a Black woman. But while another top contender, Harris, is listed as a speaker at the DNC, Rice is nowhere to be seen, despite her prominence and renewed spotlight as a VP possibility. Could she be the unnamed "Vice Presidential Nominee" slotted to speak on Wednesday?

It's far from hard evidence, but with analysts hungry for an update in the veepstakes, it's hard to ignore. The DNC is set to begin on Monday, and will largely consist of pre-recorded videos and virtual appearances, to avoid the originally-planned gathering in Milwaukee. Delegates have been asked to stay home, and Biden is expected to accept the nomination from Delaware. Summer Meza

Editor's note: This story has been updated to note Biden's plan to attend the DNC virtually.

August 10, 2020

Presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden is expected to announce his running mate this week, teasing a reporter on Sunday by asking, "Are you ready?"

Biden has said he will choose a woman as his vice presidential pick, with Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) and former National Security Adviser Susan Rice having emerged as frontrunners. Illinois Sen. Tammy Duckworth, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, and California Rep. Karen Bass have also been floated by analysts as potential picks.

"[Biden] has a very difficult decision to make … but it's almost an embarrassment of riches," Howard University political science professor Niambi Carter told USA Today, while others have worried that Biden's delay has made his choice "messier than it should be" and pitted "women, especially Black women, against one another." Check out the seven candidates The Week's Matthew Walther believes have the best chance here. Jeva Lange

August 8, 2020

The emergence of Susan Rice, a former national security adviser in the Obama administration, as a leading candidate to become former Vice President Joe Biden's running mate has led to a renewed focus on the 2012 attacks against U.S. government facilities in Benghazi, Libya, which resulted in the deaths of 11 people, including U.S. Ambassador to Libya J. Christopher Stephens. Rice, though, called the criticism of her role in the aftermath of the event a "political distraction" amid the coronavirus pandemic.

In an interview with The Atlantic, Rice did express regret about agreeing to represent the Obama administration on news shows where she announced that the attacks were part of a spontaneous protest in response to an anti-Muslim video. The information relayed turned out to be inaccurate, and the attacks were premeditated. Rice told The Atlantic her mother warned about going on the shows, especially since then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton declined, but said she ultimately accepted the task because she consider herself a "team player." Now, she says, she wishes she had listened to her mother's advice and has since learned that tragedies like Benghazi almost always get politicized.

But she isn't too bothered by the efforts of people like Fox News host Tucker Carlson to amplify her role in the event. Rice noted there has been "no investigation, no outrage, not a boo out of Congressional Republicans" over the Pensacola air base shooting that left three Americans dead or the four American service members who were killed in a terrorist attack in Niger, both under President Trump's watch. She also doesn't think focusing on Benghazi in 2020, when more than 150,000 Americans have died from the coronavirus, makes much sense. "They're going to talk about Benghazi?" she said. "I say fine, let them." Read Rice's full interview at The Atlantic. Tim O'Donnell

August 3, 2020

Don't get your hopes up for a running mate announcement from presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden this week.

Although Biden last week said that he was "going to have a choice" for his vice president pick "in the first week in August," The Washington Post reports that his search has been "extended," and the campaign is "signaling that it will likely wait until the second week of August" to tap his running mate. ABC News similarly writes that "it's looking like" the announcement won't happen this week.

As the search continues, Biden is expected to interview "five or six finalists," but he seems to be "entering the final phase of the search without a clear favorite," the Post reports. Last week, Politico reported that Biden's "biggest concern is that there is nobody on his list with whom he has any previous deep relationship," with this report suggesting a dark horse could potentially emerge.

Meanwhile, Politico reports that although the buzz has recently centered around Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.), Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), and former National Security Adviser Susan Rice, one Biden aide claims that "11 women remain in the mix."

But as the knives come out for some of the leading contenders during Biden's extended search, Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.) told the Post the situation has become "messier than it should be," and ABC News observes that "with just two weeks left before his convention, the coming time crunch could fray party unity at a moment his campaign needs it most." Brendan Morrow

July 27, 2020

As presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden nears his running mate decision, some allies are reportedly warning him against tapping one of the top contenders.

A Monday report from Politico describes how there's a "contingent of Democrats who are lobbying against" Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) as Biden's running mate pick, and some have "expressed concerns about her to the vetting committee in recent weeks," with the issues mainly coming down to "the matter of trust."

Among those casting doubt on Harris is reportedly former Sen. Chris Dodd, who Politico says has concerns about Harris that are "so deep that he's helped elevate" Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.) during the running mate search instead. An anonymous Biden supporter and donor said Dodd was shocked when he asked Harris about her takedown of Biden during the first Democratic debate, when she famously went after him for his record on busing. She apparently "laughed and said, 'that’s politics.'"

A separate Politico report says Biden wants someone who is "loyal, trusted, experienced, apolitical, someone with whom he will bond" as his running mate, and "if Biden's demand for loyalty is paramount, several top Democrats questioned whether Harris would be the right choice." The California senator does still look to be among the likeliest picks, but as Biden's announcement nears, former Senator Harry Reid told Politico, "I don't think Kamala Harris has it in the bag." Read more at Politico. Brendan Morrow

July 20, 2020

You're probably well aware of the fact that the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, former Vice President Joe Biden, needs to pick a running mate. As always, voters are watching the process closely, but there's reason to believe his choice could mean even more than usual, The Atlantic reports.

That's because some people believe Biden's No. 2 will have more power than any vice president in history should the pair defeat President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence in November. Dan Pfeiffer, a former senior Obama adviser who worked in the administration when Biden himself served as vice president, explained why to The Atlantic.

"Joe Biden's vice president will most likely be the most powerful vice president in history because the trend is toward more powerful vice presidents, Joe Biden knows the value of having a vice president with lots of responsibility, and Joe Biden is going to inherit an epic disaster," Pfeiffer said.

What Pfeiffer didn't mention, but would seemingly add to his argument, is that Biden views himself as a "transition candidate" who wants to help usher in a new era of Democratic political leaders, likely starting with his vice president. Read more at The Atlantic. Tim O'Donnell

May 28, 2020

A prominent Democratic pollster is warning former Vice President Joe Biden about the Democratic Party's biggest problem in 2020 — and offering "the obvious solution."

Stan Greenberg, former lead pollster for Bill Clinton, in a recent presentation warned the Biden campaign that "the biggest threat" Democrats are facing in 2020 is "the lack of support and disengagement of millennials and the fragmentation of non-Biden primary voters," pointing to battleground surveys he has conducted, Politico reports.

"Biden is now behind where Clinton was with Bernie Sanders voters in 2016, with more than 20 percent of the democratic socialist's backers saying they would not vote for him, even as 87 percent of them pledge to vote for a Democrat for Congress," Politico lays out. "At a similar point in the 2016 cycle, roughly 15 percent of Sanders voters said they wouldn't vote for Hillary Clinton and Greenberg's own polling through Democracy Corps around Election Day found the same."

When it comes to picking a running mate that will help Biden the most politically, Greenberg reportedly argued Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) is the "obvious solution," believing that "above all else, [the Democratic Party] needs consolidation" and arguing that her message resonates among those whose support Biden needs. Politico points to a recent Morning Consult poll suggesting Warren would bring Biden the biggest boost, and CNN recently outlined how Warren is being seen as a rising contender for Biden's VP pick, though the report noted "there are still significant political gaps to bridge" between them.

Greenberg previously pushed former Hillary Clinton to tap Warren as her running mate in 2016 and argues that she would have won had she done so. Biden has pledged to pick a woman as his running mate; he's also faced pressure in recent weeks to select a woman of color, although he hasn't committed to doing so. Biden says he hopes to have his running mate picked by the beginning of August. Brendan Morrow

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