A weekly window on the American political scene hosted by the Monitor's politics editors.

Who will be Joe Biden's Joe Biden?

The Democratic ‘veepstakes’ are in high gear, as prominent women audition to be Mr. Biden's running mate. Ideology will matter, but he also faces pressure to pick a woman of color.

Brendan McDermid/Reuters
Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden greets California Sen. Kamala Harris (D.) during a campaign stop in Detroit on March 9, 2020.

Dear reader:
 
 Who will Joe Biden choose as his running mate? The guys at Pod Save America love that question, they say with a sigh. It’s so pre-pandemic, a carry-over from a simpler time – yet highly relevant today.
 
 The former vice president has already told us he’ll pick a woman, and he’s clearly been auditioning candidates, including Sens. Amy Klobuchar, Kamala Harris, and Elizabeth Warren, who all ran against him for the Democratic nomination.
 
 All three have been appearing enthusiastically at virtual Biden events, raising money, rallying supporters, joining him on his podcast. Also in the mix are Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan, a crucial battleground state, and Stacey Abrams, the former Georgia House minority leader who came close to becoming the nation’s first black female governor.
 
 In normal times, “veepstakes” chatter is mainly just a parlor game; it’s the top of the ticket that wins or loses elections. In recent cycles, presidential nominees have picked someone with whom they have a good rapport, personally and ideologically. Mr. Biden’s choice will be analyzed closely for what it means about his politics. Senator Warren or Ms. Abrams would please progressives. Senator Klobuchar of Minnesota, a centrist, could help Mr. Biden woo disgruntled Trump voters – of whom there may be more than a few, according to survey data. Senator Harris, seen as a leading contender, would fall somewhere in between.
 
 But there’s an added dimension: Mr. Biden’s advanced age means he’ll need someone seen as having presidential chops on Day One, ready to address the new pandemic realities as well as operate on the world stage if need be.
 
 Lately, Mr. Biden has been under pressure to choose a woman of color. Senator Harris and Ms. Abrams both fit that bill - and Ms. Abrams is raising eyebrows by openly campaigning for the job.
 
 Governor Whitmer is playing the more traditional game, saying she’s focused on helping her state. Though she did reveal Tuesday that she’s had an “opening conversation” with the Biden team.
 
 Hispanic women are also being mooted, including Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham of New Mexico and Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada.
 
 Aimee Allison, founder of She the People, which aims to engage more than 1 million women of color in swing states, tells USA Today that Mr. Biden has to fire up the Democratic coalition.
 
 "If he wants us to not just vote but bring our family and communities along in record numbers,” she says, “he's got to put a woman of color on the ticket."
 
 Let us know what you’re thinking at csmpolitics@csmonitor.com

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