Ideally, for the Biden campaign, this should have happened over a month ago. However, with states pushing their primary voting further and further down the calendar, due to Covid-19, Biden on Saturday earned enough pledged delegates to clinch the Democratic nomination on the first round of voting at the convention.
In the end, it was the U.S. Virgin Islands that pushed Biden over the top. That’s notable since, as a territory, residents of the Virgin Islands can’t vote for the presidency, but they can participate in party primaries.
What was missing from this usually-celebratory moment? Any semblance of celebration.
There was barely a mention of the development on Saturday or over the weekend. No major rallies or speeches, of course, due to Coronavirus. The writing was just about set in stone when Sen. Bernie Sanders dropped out of the race in early April, so it was expected that Biden would eventually cross the threshold.
It was the mini-Super Tuesday of June 2 that put Biden within striking distance according to U.S. News:
There was no boisterous celebration in an election night hotel ballroom, no speech by the candidate, thanking his primary foes for their contribution to the dialogue and vowing to win in November. But Joe Biden early Saturday morning clinched the Democratic nomination for president.
The former vice president was close to officially reaching the 1,991 delegate haul required for the nomination last Tuesday night, when a mini-Super Tuesday series of primaries – some of which had been delayed because of the coronavirus – took place. Counting of mail-in ballots brought Biden more delegates late Friday night, and his victory in the Guam primary with 70% of the vote early Saturday morning put him over the top.
It was either Guam or the U.S. Virgin Islands that put him over the top, whichever one you decided to count first.
What does this mean for rumors of replacing Biden as the nominee with someone like New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo?
Barring health reasons, or some other reason Biden simply cannot continue as the nominee, replacing him at this point is just about impossible. The rules are the rules, as they say, and if Biden strolls virtually into Milwaukee with at least 1,991 pledged delegates, he can walk away with the nomination in the first round with no objection. There will be a push and pull over the party platform, but the party now essentially belongs to Biden at least until Election Day on November 3.
As the first order of business after clinching the nomination, Biden proposed what else, but police reform, of course:
The former vice president, who has captured the 1,991 delegates he needed to formally win the Democratic nomination, returned to the theme of racial discord Saturday as thousands protested the killing of George Floyd, an African American man who died last month after a white Minneapolis police officer kneeled on his neck for almost nine minutes.
“It’s long past time for our nation to deal with systemic racism, including its contributions to growing economic inequality,” Biden wrote in a Los Angeles Times op-ed. “We must seize this moment of opportunity to address all the issues that have denied the promise of this nation to so many for so long. Let’s use this moment of urgency to finally find the path forward.”
This is an issue Biden must – must – tackle for his supporters and his skeptical supporters, but he also has to tread carefully and avoid his own record and personal land mines.
Now, for the next question: Vice President.
Biden is now in a position, as the official presumptive-nominee, to select a vice president and roll out his running mate to the country. At this point, the choices have all been vetted, and there is probably a short-short list down to one or two, maybe three options.
Politico reports on two names that were further down the list have suddenly bubbled up in recent days:
In the last week alone, two prospects who were initially not considered among the top tier contenders have suddenly burst into contention: Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and Florida Rep. Val Demings.
Both have been tapped by the Biden campaign to act as leading surrogates amid the unrest and have seen their national media exposure intensify.
Bottoms is being vetted as a Biden running mate, two sources with knowledge of the discussions confirm to POLITICO. Demings, a former Orlando police chief, has previously confirmed she’s being vetted.
The question now is whether to put emphasis on region, by selecting Bottoms as a southern mayor of the largest city in the south or selecting another African-American woman without respect to regional influences.
In all likelihood, we will know Biden’s VP choice within the next few weeks.