I wonder if this is why there’s suddenly been so much chatter about Susan Rice lately. Maybe Biden’s moving steadily closer to choosing Harris and people around him are frantically searching for a “break glass in case of emergency” option to derail it. If he won’t take Val Demings or Karen Bass over Harris, then w-w-w-what about Susan Rice? C’mon, Joe! You know her! You like her!
Going to the media about their misgivings escalates it even further. It’s one thing to badmouth Harris behind closed doors, but knocking her in the press before she’s even been named is a shot across Biden’s bow not to follow through with his plans.
The AP photo yesterday of Biden’s notes with talking points about Harris had me 95 percent convinced that the deal was all but done. But Ed made an excellent catch about the writing further down the page in the photo. It *does* sound like he’s lining her up to be Attorney General, not vice president.
Which would be gratifying. Harris (most notably in her weaselly navigation of Medicare for All in the primary) reminds me of Ted Cruz in how her presidential ambition leads her into cynical, off-putting political posturing which she’s not personally charming enough to get away with. Just as no Republican president would want Cruz as his veep, knowing how he’d try to muscle in on the spotlight for his inevitable run for the top job, no Democratic president wants Harris. That doesn’t mean Biden won’t choose Harris — there are certain boxes that need checking this year, and she checks them — but he won’t do it enthusiastically.
And the people around him won’t receive it enthusiastically either.
Some of Joe Biden’s allies are waging a campaign behind the scenes to stop Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif, from becoming his vice president…
Some remain bitter about her attacks on Biden during primary debates last year, saying they bring into question her loyalty to the former vice president. Others argue that she’s too ambitious and that she will be solely focused on becoming president herself. Many of these Biden associates have been pushing alternatives to Harris, such as Rep. Val Demings, D-Fla, Rep. Karen Bass, D-Calif, former U.S. ambassador Susan Rice, and Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill…
“She would be running for president the day of the inauguration,” Morgan said on Wednesday. “For me loyalty and friendship should mean something. But as Bill Clinton once told me, the number one cause of Alzheimer’s is ambition,” he added, while noting he’s in favor of Demings.
“I think a good number of people closest to Joe are pushing against Kamala, including me” a Chicago based businessman backing Biden told CNBC. “I don’t like her and I don’t like the way she campaigned. She seems not loyal at all and very opportunistic.”
All true. Politico reported a few days ago that even some prominent Dems from Harris’s home state are whispering to the campaign to choose someone else. But it’s a hard ask. She’s the most prominent black female public official in the country, the only senator in the mix. She ran for president herself so she has reasonably high name recognition. She polls well enough in surveys asking voters whom they’d like to see Biden choose as VP so she wouldn’t be an obvious liability on the ticket. Although Trump will certainly make hay of her “busing” attack on Biden at the first Democratic debate last year.
She’s a known quantity. How does he pass her over and gamble on, say, Karen Bass, who could kill Biden’s chances in Florida thanks to her Castro baggage?
Obamaites are still pleading Susan Rice’s case, with Politico claiming two days ago that she’s vaulted to the top of the veep heap. I think if Biden were truly free to choose he’d choose her. She’s familiar, she won’t overshadow him, and the people he trusts the most from Obama’s administration all seem to be big fans.
“He has seen her not just in good times but on really hard and challenging occasions,” said Valerie Jarrett, who served as a senior adviser to President Barack Obama. Jarrett stressed that she’s not endorsing any particular candidate over others, but also said of Rice: “There is a level and depth to her experience which would be a real asset.”…
The chatter is loud enough that allies of others being eyed for the vice presidency are increasingly worried about Rice, especially because of her close ties to Biden, who, as Obama’s No. 2, had an office just steps away from hers.
Privately, some in California Sen. Kamala Harris’ world have indicated that Rice could be Harris’ most formidable rival for the vice presidential slot. Harris is widely considered the candidate with the best shot at being Biden’s running mate — she went through the press wringer when she ran against him in the primary and has decent name recognition. Like Rice, she would represent the first Black woman on a major-party presidential ticket.
Does she do more harm to the ticket than good, though? Biden would have to deal with her Benghazi and unmasking baggage; she’s perceived as too hawkish by the left (although so is Joe); she brings nothing to the election in terms of domestic policy whereas Harris can at least say that she’s supported most of their favorite initiatives like M4A, however half-heartedly and strategically. If Democrats take back the Senate this fall, he should have little difficulty getting Rice confirmed as Secretary of State. He doesn’t need her as VP if he wants to work with her again.
Radical possibility: It … doesn’t matter whom Biden names.
Biden/Rice 47% (+7)
Biden/Abrams 47% (+7)
Biden/Warren 47% (+6)
Biden/Harris 47% (+6)
Biden/Baldwin 46% (+6)
— Political Polls (@Politics_Polls) July 29, 2020
If I were him, I think I’d roll the dice on Demings just because “law and order” looks to be the one issue that could conceivably bring Trump back into the race this fall even if America’s pandemic response continues to be, shall we say, sub-optimal. There’s circumstantial evidence over the past two days that the race is tightening a bit; the most logical reason is the spectacle of lefty radicals rampaging through parts of Portland, Oakland, and other cities. If swing voters start to get nervous about the left feeling its oats under a Biden administration — and if they’re willing to overlook the fact that the current violence is happening with Trump in office, not Biden — then maybe things begin to get interesting. In that case, it’d be useful to the Democrats to have a police chief on the ticket.
Granted, as the former AG of California, Harris would also bring some law-and-order cred. But as top prosecutor, Harris was more of a policymaker on criminal justice in her state (and has had many headaches from the left for some of those policies). Demings, as chief of police, was more of a law enforcer. And it’s easier, I think, for voters to assume that cops are “tough on crime” than it is to assume the same about prosecutors since state AGs are political creatures who are elected to office. An AG from California might be written off by swing voters as presumptively a bleeding-heart liberal. Thus Demings would give Biden the most cover on any exposure he has on crime right now, and I think the left would tolerate her police pedigree well enough purely in the interest of defeating Trump.