Susan Rice defends VP qualifications

Former National Security Adviser Susan Rice is promising to support Joe Biden’s run for the presidency while defending her own qualifications as a potential vice-presidential nominee. Rice’s comments came Sunday on NBC’s Meet the Press where she told Andrea Mitchell it was premature to suggest she’d be the VP pick.

Well, Andrea, let’s not get ahead of ourselves here, right? Joe Biden needs to make the decision as to who he thinks will be his best running mate. And I will do my utmost drawing on my experience of years in government, years of making the bureaucracy work. I’ve worked on multiple campaigns, presidential campaigns. I’ve been on the campaign trail as a, as a surrogate. And I’m going to do everything I can to help get Joe Biden elected and to help him succeed as president, whether I’m his running mate or I’m a door knocker. I don’t mind. I just want to get Joe Biden elected and see the Democrats control the Senate and retain the House because, Andrea, we are at a moment where our democracy is at stake, where our leadership role in the world is at stake, where the lives of tens of thousands of Americans are on the line, lost to incompetence and callous leadership that could care less. We’ve got to change that. This country is a tremendous place, but we have work to do to perfect it. We have work to do to unite it. And this president could care less. We need new leadership. And so in whatever capacity I can serve to support Joe Biden and support this country, that’s what I’m going to do.

It’s a smart stance to take given the fact she appears more of an outside shot for the role compared to Senators Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren. Eric-Isaac Dovere wrote at The Atlantic in late May he sees Rice as a potential secretary of defense or secretary of state candidate and that Rice, herself, does not expect to be VP. Her biggest backer appears to be Sout Carolina Congressman Jim Clyburn due to national security issues. Via The Atlantic:

“I just don’t know how the country will look in the next several months, but it would seem to me that we have a lot to do in this country, not to just restore the confidence in the American people, but we’ve got to restore confidence around the world,” Clyburn said. He told me he’d leave Biden to make a decision based on personal dynamics and polling, but “I don’t know that there’s another African American woman in the country, or any woman other than maybe Hillary Clinton, who has the stripes that she has on foreign policy.”

This may be why Biden’s familiarity with Rice appears to be putting her among the candidates for VP despite the general consensus Harris will be the running mate. Sources told The Hill today Biden and Rice worked extremely well together in the Obama Administration with one person calling her a “rock star.” That source also used the “gravitas” term not heard since George W. Bush was attempting to decide on a running mate in 2000.

One factor in this is whether Biden’s camp has serious concerns about losing Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren bloc voters in November. Progressive groups are fans of Harris despite her extremely mixed record on justice reform, a similar record to Biden’s own. Of course, justice reform may not be an issue running up to November given Trump’s focus on “law and order,” and despite the fact he signed FIRST Step Act (something he should run on). Harris or Warren as the VP pick seems more of an appeal towards that bloc of voters even though California and Massachusetts are likely going for Biden in November.

Rice is mostly a blank slate, despite her past in the Obama Administration. Yes, she’s a bureaucrat so she’d likely explain policy rather decently. However, would she even matter on the ticket? Outside of a potential attack line from Trump on #Obamagate or #Spygate or whatever the hell he’s calling it today. The vice-presidency is a rather pointless office with nebulous duties. It’s been used for coalition building and congressional negotiations but now seems more of a campaign surrogate with the occasional meeting with state and international leaders.

The fact is this: it’s Biden vs. Trump vs. Jorgensen vs. whoever the Green Party’s nominee ends up being in November. The only way the VP pick really ends up mattering is if Biden picks Hillary Clinton or Michelle Obama. And, even then, I’m not sure it would matter.