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Joe Biden's Vice Presidential Pick

Zoraiz Zafar

Posted on July 31, 2020 16:58

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Handicapping the potential VP nominees on Biden's shortlist and their effects on the presidential election.

Discussing potential vice-presidential contenders is a lot like Hollywood gossip; it doesn’t matter much to anybody but, nonetheless, most people partake in it. However, Joe Biden’s vice-presidential pick will have a paramount effect on the future of American politics. Biden’s right-hand woman will be seen as the heir apparent in a largely leaderless and fragmented Democratic Party and will likely lead the ticket once Biden calls it a day, be it in 2024 or 2028.  So, with the VP announcement at the doorstep, who should he pick?

It would be criminal if I were to begin this assessment with someone other than the obvious choice; Senator Kamala Harris. She is a charismatic and adroit leader with far higher national name recognition than each of her competitors. However, she is not a lock for the VP nod. The public brawl between Harris and Biden during the August 2019 debate could be used as evidence of her ‘two-facedness’ and, in all fairness, she has had trouble explaining how she could go from wrecking Biden in public to being a key surrogate. Her record as Attorney General of California did come to light during her short-lived presidential run but is unlikely to come up too frequently during the general election. After all, the GOP, which has positioned itself as being the law and order party, cannot accuse a political opponent of being tough on law.

But there are options beyond Harris. Former National Security Advisor, Susan Rice, rose to prominence primarily on the basis of her strong relations with Biden. Nevertheless, she has never campaigned for office before and does not boast much name recognition amongst voters or donors. She also carries baggage from the Benghazi attack. If Rice is tapped for VP, Team Trump will land haymakers on Biden for picking someone so incompetent. The last thing Democrats need is another ‘e-mail scandal’.

Another candidate that has seen an increase in her stock is Representative Karen Bass, the Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus. Bass has low name recognition and her performance during Attorney General Barr’s most recent House Judiciary Committee hearing was far from ideal. In my opinion, Bass is the Tim Kaine of 2020. She is unlikely to damage the campaign but she would not boost the ticket much either.

There are certain dark horses, too. Senator Tammy Duckworth has a strong personal backstory and does, largely, confine to Biden’s centrist agenda. Her relatively low name recognition, though, won’t do her any favors. Moreover, Biden is facing increasing calls to tap a Black woman so as to repay them for loyally sticking with the party. This goes against Duckworth, who is an Asian American.

In conclusion, unless something significant comes up during the vetting process, it should be Harris all the way. If Biden, for any number of reasons, wants to go another route, his options would be limited to Duckworth and Rice, both of whom are, at least on paper, below Harris.    

Zoraiz Zafar

Posted on July 31, 2020 16:58

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