Joe Biden might or might not be a politician voters would want to have a beer with, but he suuuure passes the poker test. Who wouldn’t want to play a few hands with someone who holds his cards this far away from the vest? According to a photo taken at an appearance on Tuesday, Biden carried notes outlining his strategy for talking up Kamala Harris — including the reminder, “Do not hold grudges”:
"Do not hold grudges."
— The New York Times (@nytimes) July 29, 2020
“Do not hold grudges.” “Campaigned with me & Jill.” “Talented.” “Great help to campaign.” “Great respect for her.”
The notes about Ms. Harris — which were captured by photographers and reported by The Associated Press — indicate that he was prepared to field questions about her.
Or that he had trouble remembering who she is. But I digress ….
That may not mean anything about her likelihood (or not) of being picked. Mr. Biden — who is often quite fond of talking — had relatively little to say when asked on Tuesday about his vice-presidential search. But he did tell reporters one thing: He will make his selection next week.
The impression that Biden is strategizing around Harris got a boost when Politico reported that he had already picked her for the slot. This report came from four days in the future, apparently — not even enough time to get betting information on the NFL’s opening day, alas:
— Mark Bednar (@MarkBednar) July 28, 2020
Politico explained that the report had gone out in error, an explanation at which some scoffed but is likely true. Politico probably has several of these in the can ready to go out as soon as Biden makes his choice official. The text has just been massaged a bit from the site’s VP Tracker analysis, which makes these easy to produce. Think of it like an obituary — which is a fairly appropriate analogy to becoming someone else’s running mate.
So it does look like the tea leaves are coming up Kamala. Why else would Biden need to remind himself, “Do not hold grudges”? Harris tried calling Biden a racist in the first primary debate and got a lot of traction from it … for a very short period of time. However, Harris got humiliated not once but twice by Tulsi Gabbard over it and utterly bombed as a campaigner. Harris proved herself weak in competitive politics, which means about the only thing she brings to the ticket is California … which Biden should already have in the bag.
Perhaps, though, better clues can be found in the second set of notes on Biden’s notepad. Those read:
- Dept of Justice Reform
- The peoples [sic] lawyer not presidents [sic] lawyer
- Highest qualifications
- Decisions on law and fact
That sounds as though Biden has Harris in mind for another job entirely — Attorney General. A VP would have little or nothing to do with the issues outlined in that section of Biden’s Kamala flashcard set. Whether that accurately describes Harris’ record as California’s AG is a matter of debate, but that appears to be what Biden has in mind for Harris. This might be Biden’s strategy for not naming Harris as his running mate — that it’s not a “grudge,” that he values her assistance on the campaign trail, but that she’s better suited to carry out his policies at the DoJ.
So who will be Biden’s running mate? NPR thinks two governors are rising in the ranks, thanks at least in part to the COVID-19 pandemic:
It also previewed an ongoing theme of this pandemic — a debate over who should take the lead in managing the crisis.
Now, Whitmer and another governor confronting the pandemic at the state level, Michelle Lujan Grisham of New Mexico, are two of the candidates reportedly said to be on Joe Biden’s vice presidential shortlist. The presumptive Democratic presidential nominee said Tuesday that he plans to announce his pick next week.
Lujan Grisham was New Mexico’s health secretary before three terms in Congress, where she was chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, and then became governor in 2019.
Lujan Grisham had dealt with a flu outbreak as health secretary, and so she started preparing for the coronavirus when it spread abroad in January, rushing to secure testing supplies. She also issued early lockdown orders when there were just a few cases in New Mexico.
Whitmer fumbled the ball with her arbitrary edicts, which led to widespread protests — back when protests were bad, of course. Besides, Biden has already pledged to choose a woman of color, and Whitmer only qualifies as a sort of ivory in that regard. Lujan Grisham is Hispanic, which likely won’t be good enough for African-American voters, but will allow Biden to claim that he kept his word. Her experience on health issues and epidemics would make her a solid choice — especially since Lujan Grisham has executive experience, a quality lacking in almost all of the other veepstakes candidates mentioned as Biden shortlisters.