After what seems like an age since Joe Biden publicly announced that he would be picking a woman as his Vice President, we finally know just which woman he has chosen. Senator Kamala Harris from California will be joining Joe Biden to take on the Donald Trump/Mike Pence ticket in the 2020 election. Naturally, however, given that we have had to wait so long for the announcement, plenty of names were tossed around. Let’s take a look at those women who were reportedly serious contenders for the VP spot, and the reasons why Biden might have turned them down.
A Biden/Warren ticket just sounds formidable, doesn’t it? If Biden had chosen Warren as his VP, he could have gone a long way to closing the ever-widening gap between the moderate wing of the Democratic Party (where Biden lives) and the progressive wing of the party (where Warren lives). Such an appointment could have brought the party together with plenty of time before Election Day.
However, Democrats are seeking a majority in the Senate. Choosing Elizabeth Warren as the Vice President would mean that she would not be able to run for the Senate, potentially giving Republicans another seat in the Senate and making passing Democratic legislation that bit harder (assuming that Biden is elected, of course!)
A Biden/Warren ticket would also be old and white. Biden will be 78 by the time that the next President takes the White House in January, and Warren will be 71. Democrats would find it difficult to push the message that they are the party of diversity and young people if they chose an old, all-white ticket.
The current Governor of Michigan has received widespread notoriety (with some criticism) for her handling of Michigan’s coronavirus outbreak, which has been praised both at home and abroad by various media outlets. Naturally, the way Whitmer has handled one of the worst crises the United States has faced in recent times led to speculation that she might be chosen as Biden’s VP for her leadership skills alone.
However, Michigan Democrats expressed concern that her skills could best be used in Michigan, rather than as Biden’s VP, according to the New York Times.
While Whitmer is also young (she’s 48), and a candidate from a state like Michigan – which will be crucial to the Biden campaign if they want to win the White House in November – could certainly have boosted the Democrats in the Rust Belt states they lost in 2016, Biden probably turned down Whitmer because her leadership skills have only recently come to the fore, not to mention the fact that a Biden/Whitmer ticket would have been all-white, in much the same was as a Biden/Warren ticket would have been too.
Ever since her incredibly close gubernatorial contest against Brian Kemp in 2018, Stacey Abrams has been in and around the conversations about top Democratic jobs, highlighted by her being chosen to give the Democratic response to the State of the Union address in 2019. There were even rumors that Abrams might run for president in 2020. While she didn’t run for president, Abrams had been touted as a VP pick for a while before Harris was eventually chosen. Unlike the other candidates, Abrams even made a public announcement that she would like to be the VP.
As a Southern, Black woman, Abrams certainly has a lot going for her in terms of boosting the Biden ticket. Abrams is also synonymous with the state of Georgia, which, judging by polling data at least, is more competitive in 2020 than it was in 2016. There is an outside, yet a possible, chance that Biden could flip Georgia blue and win its sixteen Electoral College votes. With Abrams on the ticket, Biden might have stood a stronger chance of winning Georgia in the general election.
Yet aside from being a state representative in Georgia, Abrams has no other elected experience, and it would be a tall order to expect her to be able to govern as president should something happen to Joe Biden.
A few weeks ago, many would not have considered Rice to be anywhere near the top of the list of potential nominees for Biden’s VP spot. Yet as the coronavirus pandemic has rapidly gotten worse across the United States, rumors that Biden might want a VP with national security experience got louder, to the point where some media outlets called Rice the favorite for the job.
Rice is also trusted by the Biden campaign, and close to Biden himself since she was President Obama’s National Security Adviser and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. Which is where her weaknesses start to appear. These are the only government positions Rice has ever held, and neither of them were elected. Consequently, she has no experience in running campaigns or any elected office in general. If something were to happen to Joe Biden while he was in office and he was unable to execute the role of the president, we would then see Susan Rice promoted to the office without ever having won an election or having proven herself to the public.
Republicans would also have had a field day in criticizing Rice for the Benghazi terror attack in 2012. To this day there are still Republicans who believe that Susan Rice was (at best) deceptive or (at worst) outright lying about the causes of the attack that killed four Americans, including the U.S. Ambassador to Libya. Such attacks would no doubt distract the Biden campaign from the positive messages it is trying to portray about a Biden presidency.
Perhaps the least well-known name on this list, Bass has been House Representative for California’s 37th Congressional District since 2013, and she was the Representative for California’s 33rd Congressional District between 2011 and 2013. Before that, she was a member of the California State Assembly for six years, including two years as the State Assembly Speaker.
Since 2018, she has been the chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, a title which, given recent racial tensions across the United States, would no doubt have helped increase her odds of being considered for the Vice Presidential role.
However, Bass came under scrutiny for her work for the Venceremos Brigade, a U.S. organization sponsored in part by the Castro government, in the 1970s. Republicans, as expected, pounced on this as a way to paint Bass as a Communist, a Castro fan, and generically anti-American. In states where Cuban-Americans can have a determining factor such as Florida, Bass might have just been too controversial a VP choice to help win the election.
In the end, Kamala Harris is the obvious choice. She is young and Black, but with the right amount of experience to lead the country should the worst happen to Joe Biden. At just 55, she has already been a district attorney, state attorney, and U.S. Senator. She also largely compliments the Biden ticket in terms of its political positions on most of the key issues. Biden/Harris is a formidable ticket, and the quick Trump attacks when she was announced show that top Republicans are worried.