Joe Biden’s running buddy list is shorter than you think – at least for now

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Biden commits to having a woman as vice president

Whether Biden has one or two favorites ahead of time – and several longtime friends and advisors are sure it is – he doesn’t say so. He can listen to advice and recommendations, but offers his thoughts to a few people besides his wife, Jill, and the leaders of his research committee.

Yet Biden made no secret of the fact that his leading position is someone with unassailable credentials who is ready to become president. And this, according to many Democrats close to Biden, has reduced the list of its serious options to less than five, at least for now, when reviews begin to provide a backdrop for former rivals and other possible candidates.

The list could be even narrower because Biden is also looking for someone with whom he has a close personal connection – or believes that he can easily create one.

Nearly two dozen friends, advisers and allies tell CNN that while Biden doesn’t share the details of his thinking, they believe that loyalty is more important to him than practically any other feature, along with experience, which is crucial given the daunting task. rebuilding the economy and trying to avoid a second calamitous coronavirus outbreak.

“You can’t stress the importance of chemistry enough,” said Jennifer Granholm, a former Michigan governor and CNN collaborator who has helped Biden prepare for the debates since 2008. “He was an outstanding vice president. He would like to have someone loyal and on the same page as him – and someone who can rule immediately. “

It was 12 years ago this month when Barack Obama started considering Biden to be a member of his ticket. One of the main reasons, Obama told the aides at the time, was that Biden was running for president, had always done well in primary debates and had been tested on the national scene. Today, that same feeling informs Biden’s thought, many people close to him believe.

Sens. Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar and Elizabeth Warren all demonstrated during the main race of the last year, demonstrating that they are able to face the rigors of a tough campaign and to be equipped for the needs of the vice presidency. Each of them brings different political, geographical and ideological strengths to the table.

But of the three, Warren has a steep obstacle beyond his control.

If he became vice president, his replacement in Massachusetts would be chosen by Governor Charlie Baker, a Republican, who could reverse the balance of power in the Senate. The state has relatively rapid special electoral laws, between 145 and 160 days after a vacancy, but could still overthrow democratic control of the Senate for the months of opening a Biden presidency.

With Democrats increasingly hopeful of the chance to win a majority in the Senate, this complication could give Biden a credible reason for moving on to Warren, with whom he has had a tense relationship over the years. He expressed his interest in joining the ticket, but a Democratic senator friendly with both Biden and Warren downplayed the likelihood of this happening, saying to CNN: “He knows that the majority of the Senate is too important to risk.”

Main candidates for Harris and Klobuchar

As the presidential search intensifies, Harris and Klobuchar are widely viewed as two of the main contenders, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. The verification process will determine whether they remain at the top level at the end of the search.

Since both are candidates for the presidency, most aspects of their background are already well known, but the search for a vice presidential selection could be much more rigorous, invasive and different than their presidential offerings. Teams of lawyers will be tasked with examining their stories, notably focusing on their registries as attorneys in California and Minnesota, along with financial information and personal experience.

One area of ‚Äč‚Äčexploration that Klobuchar could also address is a deepening of questions about how he treated his staff over the years, which became a problem early in his presidential run. Klobuchar’s allies downplay the matter, saying that his political strengths in places where Democrats must win, along with the ability to immediately assist Biden’s government, would overcome any previous complaints about his management style or temperament. During the main campaign, Klobuchar acknowledged that he sometimes pushed his staff too much and attributed those complaints to his high standards.

“This could be one of the biggest goals of the verification process, trying to get to the bottom of Senator Klobuchar’s staff problems,” said a Biden ally who is not involved in the research and believes that both senators would make a strong choice. . “In the end, Joe will have to decide if it matters or not after seeing what the vet shows up.”

The prospect that Harris and Klobuchar are seen as the main choices has also rekindled the old rivalries of the primary campaign and kicked off a lobbying campaign below radar, say people close to both teams. Since Biden promised to choose a woman as her running partner during a March debate, the competition has slowly intensified as supporters of both senators have slowly pushed their respective strengths and weaknesses.

They are not the only senators with powerful supporters.

Latinx activists want Joe Biden to choose a Latina as his vice president
Senator Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada was promoted to Biden and her team by former Senate majority leader Harry Reid, a longtime family friend, who believes that a Latina would add excitement to the ticket. Reid spoke directly to Biden about choosing the new Nevada senator as his travel companion, a Reid aide said.

“Choosing a Latin driving companion with Senator Cortez Masto would certainly help stimulate Nevada voters,” Reid said in a statement to CNN. “I’m not surprised to hear that Senator Cortez Masto is on Vice President Biden’s shortlist for a running partner. It would be an excellent choice.”

Cortez Masto, a former Nevada attorney general, elected to the Senate in 2016, wrote about the personal connection he felt with the Biden family in a fundraising email he sent for the Biden campaign in late April.

“I have known Joe Biden for almost 10 years, but he was not the first Biden family member I met. He was actually his late son, Beau, a fellow attorney general, my partner in many important fights and a close friend.” Cortez Masto wrote. “When I met Joe personally, it was clear that the apple hadn’t fallen far from the tree.”

A personal connection

Establishing a personal connection with his running partner will be crucial, say several people close to Biden, a point that has also repeatedly been clarified. Biden often speaks of the strong relationship he and Obama have had in the White House and adds that he is looking for someone “nice” as he has become with the former president.

After narrowing his choice down to a woman, consultants say Biden is intentionally throwing a wider network among elected officials in Washington and beyond. He often seems eager to confirm his interest in a candidate, which expands the potential field.

Last week, after a virtual rally with Florida voters, Biden told an Orlando television station that Representative Val Demings, who was one of the House’s impeachment managers, was “one of a group of nearly a dozen. of truly qualified and talented women on the list. “

Numerous governors who have drawn front-line attention in the fight against coronavirus are also getting a potential look. Biden has repeatedly turned the spotlight on Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, but Democrats close to him believe that at least two others are seen as possible contenders: Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo and New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham.

The top 10 women Joe Biden could choose as vice president are ranked

But it is an open question as to whether a governor would also be able to seriously entertain an offer, given the pressing demands to guide their states through a pandemic and economic collapse. No one has been tested on the national stage or subjected to the rigors of a presidential race and Democrats close to the trial believe that the status of the coronavirus in each state can be a factor in deciding whether leaders like Whitmer, Raimondo or Lujan Grisham could be chosen.

Even Whitmer, who attracted more attention because of Michigan’s intense battle with the coronavirus, is ultimately seen by many people close to Biden as a long-range strike. “Yes, he has incredible talent, but could he now accept the job?” said a Biden consultant not involved in the research.

While some Democrats urged the campaign to make an announcement in early summer, Biden still appears to favor an announcement no earlier than July.

Timing could always be regulated, the aides said, based on the length of the verification process and when the campaign believes it could make the leap for Biden to introduce his partner, only the third woman in history to be named vice president. of a major political party.

Biden spent a lot of time around many of the potential contenders, with the audition process often taking place as if it were taking place in real time. Other similar events are on his schedule, the aides said, giving Biden time to familiarize himself with potential candidates.

He is slated to make a joint television appearance Thursday with Stacey Abrams, who formally supported Biden on Tuesday, and has not been shy about his interest in serving as a running mate. Abrams, the former Democratic leader of Georgia House who narrowly lost his bid as state governor in 2018, said he would make an “excellent” choice for Biden.

But some of Biden’s neighbors believe that it is the people who ran against him in the primaries who will have the best chance of being chosen to be part of a future administration in Biden, both as vice president and cabinet secretary.

“He has seen these people under pressure,” said former Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe, adding that “someone who has passed the presidential candidate verification process” has already suffered more scruples than someone who was not a candidate in 2020. .

For Biden, there is a small disadvantage in keeping as many options on the table as possible – or, at least, it seems to be doing it as the verification process proceeds. He said he was looking for a running mate who is ready to be president at a “moment of notice”.

The decision is one of the most intimate that any presidential candidate will make. It is made even more important by the significant challenges facing anyone who wins the November elections. Several longtime friends say the best guide is to listen to Biden’s words and the criteria he outlined.

Well before it became clear that he would become the Democratic presidential candidate, a voter in New Hampshire asked the former vice president what factors he would consider when choosing his running mate.

“One, who is younger than me,” said Biden, who at 77 years old described himself as a transition leader. “No, I’m not doing the facet! And No. 2, who are ready on the first day to become President of the United States of America.”

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