Evaluating Biden’s Potential Running Mates

Now that Bernie Sanders has finally cried uncle and Elizabeth Warren and Barack Obama have endorsed him, it’s time for Joe Biden to go about the business of selecting a running mate. Given that the odds of holding an actual convention are no better than 50/50, and he doesn’t have the rigors of the campaign to contend with, he can take his time.

For all the nervous nellies out there who keep insisting that Biden needs to hold a press conference every time Captain Bligh sticks his foot in his mouth, relax. If Biden spoke out that often he’d have no voice left by the middle of May. The best thing the presumptive nominee can do is lay low and allow Trump to dig his own grave. There’ll be plenty of time for him to speak his peace to the nation. Besides, let’s not forget that speaking isn’t exactly Biden’s forte. The less said the merrier, I say.

I’ve been thinking a lot about who Biden should choose as his running mate. As I wrote a while back, a VP has only two functions: one, do no harm; two, shore up a deficiency. Anything else is gravy. Since Biden has already committed to picking a female running mate, that should narrow the field a bit.

Before we go any further, let me just put the kibosh on the speculation that Biden will ask Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer to be his running mate. The reason should be obvious. At this point, there isn’t a governor in the country that doesn’t have their hands full dealing with this pandemic. It would be completely inappropriate for her to even consider the VP slot, and no doubt Biden has been told as much or has figured it out. That being said, she would make an excellent choice. She’s from the Rust Belt region in a state that Biden will have to win in order to beat Trump, and she’d be qualified on day one to assume the presidency should anything happen to Biden while in office. The timing just isn’t there.

The popular choice being touted by many is Kamala Harris. While Harris is certainly qualified, I’m still bothered by her performance on the campaign trail. In short, she was a lousy candidate who ran a lousy campaign. For whatever reason, Harris never gained any traction with voters, and my fear is that she won’t really do much for Biden come November. Yes, she’s black, but then Biden already enjoys enormous support within the African American community, and with Obama stumping for him, I just don’t see any need for Harris. Besides, I think she’d make a much better Attorney General. Trump would shit his pants during her confirmation hearings.

Next up is Elizabeth Warren. It’s no secret that Biden needs to unify this party. While it’s not nearly as fractured as it was when Hillary Clinton won the nomination in 2016, it’s not exactly Woodstock, either. Warren would give Biden an enormous advantage, more so than any other running mate in the field. She would give progressives who are nervous about Biden the permission to come on board. Yes, the Bernie Bros would still bitch and moan, but then they were going to do that anyway no matter who Biden picked. The point is to limit the damage they might cause, and Warren does that. I still believe that had Hillary chose Warren instead of Tim Kaine, she might’ve beaten Trump. The only potential downside is that the governor of Massachusetts is a Republican and will likely appoint a Republican to take her place. A special election would fix that, but not before January.

Of all the candidates on the list, Amy Klobuchar is the most qualified. I was very impressed with the last few debate performances she had. She had finally found her voice, though unfortunately not in enough time for her to win any contests. The obvious problem with Klobuchar is the same one that dogged the Clinton campaign four years ago. She’s basically a doppelgänger of Biden. Yes, she does no harm, but she doesn’t address a single deficiency on the ticket. If anything, her polling among blacks is a huge red flag. She was by far the least popular within that demographic. If Biden were to pick Klobuchar over Warren or, dare I say, Harris, he would get enormous blowback from the Left and African Americans, two constituencies he cannot afford to alienate in the general. Sorry, Amy. You’d have made a great VP.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t at least consider Stacey Abrams. The progressive firebrand is the flavor of the month in some circles and she came within a whisker of winning the governorship of Georgia, no small feat. But here’s my problem with her. There are more qualified candidates out there. Make no mistake about it: Biden’s age will be a campaign issue, as will his verbal gaffes. Whoever he eventual picks as his running mate will have to make the case to voters that they can assume the presidency on day one. My fear is that on the debate stage – assuming we even have one – Abrams will not be able to close the deal. Whatever else you may think of Mike Pence: he is a former governor with actual executive experience.

So who should Biden pick? Since we still have no way of knowing what effect the Coronavirus will have on turnout in November, Democrats will need every vote they can muster. The results this week from Wisconsin clearly show that the suburbs are in play. Democrats must win there in order to capture the White House. Trump will have a difficult time branding Biden a socialist, and, well, we all know how much Warren gets under his skin. Call it a win / win scenario.

As I wrote back in February, “Kennedy needed Johnson, Reagan needed Bush and Obama needed Biden. Guess what? Biden needs Warren. It’s really not that complicated. A Biden / Warren ticket would ostensibly kill two birds with one stone. It would unite the Left and the Center; but more than that, it would put an end to one of the darkest chapters in American history.”

Author: Peter Fegan

Progressive but pragmatic. Lover of music, die-hard Giants' fan and reluctant Mets' fan. My favorite motto? I'd rather be ruled by a smart Turk than a dumb Christian.

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