NYT: Identity politics bite Biden as he considers VP choice

NYT: Identity politics bite Biden as he considers VP choice

We’ve entered a really fun stage of the presidential election cycle. The speculation is on over who Joe Biden will pick as his vice-presidential choice. Let the games begin.

Biden has boxed himself into a corner because of the fact that he committed to picking a woman as his running mate. “I commit that I will in fact pick a woman to be vice president,” he said during the March Democrat debate against Bernie Sanders. Sanders showed more restraint than Biden in falling for an easy pander to the viewing audience – he said he would “likely” choose a woman. Now, since simply choosing a woman isn’t enough, the party leaders are weighing in on a new piece of the puzzle. Should Joe Biden choose a black woman or a white woman?

Let me go ahead and answer that question right now. He will choose a black woman as his running mate. An article in the New York Times today dives into that question. While an argument can (and should) be made that there are some white women on his alleged list of finalists that would bring in electoral votes for him, it may prove to be a fatal decision if he doesn’t pick a black woman. For example, both Michigan Governor Whitmer and Minnesota’s Senator Amy Klobuchar are in the running, if rumors are correct. Either of those two white women would bring along some important votes from the Upper Midwest region. Michigan and Minnesota are both considered up for grabs this election cycle.

But we all know it’s not that simple. Black activists and public figures are grabbing the ears of the Biden campaign and urging their favorites to be the official choice. Rev. Al Sharpton is pushing hard for the Unofficial Governor of Georgia, Stacey Abrams. The NYT reports that Sharpton and Biden speak frequently which is enough to make any conservative cringe hard. Sharpton is expected to announce his support of Abrams next week. This is where I ask when did official announcements of preferences for vice-presidential choices become a thing? Anyway, Democrats continue to bow to the wishes of phony Rev. Al for some reason and we’ll see if Joe Biden caves to his wishes.

Democrats are particularly sensitive this time around because in 2016 Hillary Clinton’s presidential bid saw a decrease in black voters for the Democrat nominee for the first time in twenty years. Remember that during the 2016 presidential race, Hillary had Senator Cory Booker on her shortlist of running mates. He made the argument at the time that as the only black person on her list, he’d be the one to pick because he could garner enthusiasm from black voters. Hillary, a status quo candidate, chose Tim Kaine instead and we all know how it turned out. Clinton could never quite capture the enthusiasm of the Obama coalition and failed to win back the White House for Democrats. So, in 2020, Democrats don’t want to make that mistake again. That is why I don’t think that the Biden campaign will be choosing a white woman and make it an all-white ticket again.

There is nothing new in a man-woman ticket at the top. It’s happened in both parties in past elections. But, there has never been a black woman chosen as a vice-president. The pressure is on. What better way to call President Trump a racist white supremacist at every campaign stop than to have a black woman doing it? I can certainly see it happening. Remember that Joe Biden listed the riot/protest at Charlottesville as the deciding factor when he entered the Democrat primary. The anti-Trump media lapped up that story.

Stacey Abrams has been brazenly campaigning for herself as Joe’s pick. Usually, a politician will quietly let a campaign know of his or her interest in the job. Not Stacey. She’s loudly proclaiming herself as the only logical choice. I wrote about Abrams’ interview in Elle magazine just 6 days ago which wasn’t anywhere near a normal interview. It was a puff piece in which she was given the platform to unapologetically name herself as the obvious choice. No foreign policy experience? Never mind that, she’s “independently studied” that subject for years, you know. She has the least experience in elected office or executive experience of any of the women allegedly on the list but she’s black so that trumps all in the party of identity politics.

This election is a bit different than the others. In normal presidential elections, the vice-presidential pick ends up not making much difference. This year, the choice is Joe Biden and he’s not only elderly at the age of 77 years old (he’ll turn 78 just a couple of weeks after the November election), he is by all appearances in a mental and physical decline. He can’t articulate a thought beyond a few words strung together and frequently appears to be confused, almost dazed, as he looks into the camera during virtual interviews delivered from his home basement. If you can watch him without cringing, more power to you. Will he survive to November without being replaced? I don’t think the DNC is bold enough to take the nomination away from him at the convention but after the election, if he is elected, does he survive a full four-year term? I wouldn’t bet on it. His vice-presidential choice is quite important, just in case he wins. What about Senator Kamala Harris?

Yet Mr. Biden is facing other factors and pressures as well. He has said he wants someone who is prepared to step into the vice presidency immediately, a nod to the value he puts on government and leadership experience. He would be the oldest president ever, 78 on Inauguration Day, and is looking for a partner and, possibly, a potential successor. With the country deep into the coronavirus pandemic, voters will also assess whether his running mate appears capable of handling the worst national crisis since World War II.

Ms. Harris, who has statewide and national experience, is seen in the Biden camp as a more likely pick than Ms. Abrams, who was a state legislative leader for a decade before losing her bid for governor. Still, some Democrats believe that choosing a hands-on governor or veteran senator is a better fit for the crisis than Ms. Harris, who was attorney general of California and has been in the Senate for three years.

Some Democrats are urging other choices than Abrams. San Fran Gran Pelosi is floating names like Rep. Val Demings (of Trump impeachment trial fame) and Rep. Marcia Fudge. House Majority Whip James Clyburn, credited for the Biden win in South Carolina, is speaking favorably of Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi has encouraged allies to float names of House members like Representatives Val Demings of Florida and Marcia Fudge of Ohio, according to people familiar with those conversations, in part to reward members of her caucus with a higher profile. Several leaders in the Congressional Black Caucus, an organization steeped in tradition, have preferred Ms. Harris, who is a member. Georgia politicians like Atlanta’s former mayor Kasim Reed and its current mayor, Keisha Lance Bottoms, who endorsed Mr. Biden early and is a top surrogate, are former political rivals of Ms. Abrams.

Biden is being encouraged to make a choice soon. Keep the popcorn handy.

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