Trauma and gaffes crash Biden's VP selection process

2 min

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Trauma and gaffes crash Biden's VP selection process

“Because of social media and the explosion of information available, the scrutiny has quadrupled from when I was being vetted,” said former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, who ran for president in 2008. “And what it does is, it makes the selection process that much more difficult for any presidential candidate, because the scrutiny focuses more on the negative than the positive.”

Richardson added, “The main criteria should be for the VP who can step in and become president. And now it may be, who can bring to the ticket less damage.”

Biden, along with campaign aides and outside allies, including elected officials and donors, acknowledge that this year’s search — given his age, his own hints that he likely would serve only a single term, and his No. 2’s ability to shape the direction of the party — has taken on added significance. “It’s more important than I’ve seen it in the last many decades,” Harry Reid, the former Senate majority leader and a friend of Biden’s, told POLITICO.

Reid said he expressed as much to Biden in their conversations, including in a recent phone call, and “he didn’t disagree.”

Biden told donors last week that his vetting committee has been working through his shortlist and is deciding who makes the next cut: “Whether or not they really want it. Are they comfortable?” Biden explained. On Thursday, Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada, one of two Latinas in contention along with Michelle Lujan Grisham, withdrew from consideration for the job.

“Right now, we’re in preliminary stage,” said Reid, who had spoken highly of Cortez Masto.

“They’re in the street because they have no choice.” A look into the Minneapolis protests, through the eyes of an activist who’s had enough and a journalist who’s stretched thin covering the unrest.

In the interim, Biden’s own steps — and missteps — are emphasizing deficiencies that a running mate could help cure. His recent quip that black voters who haven’t decided whether to vote for him or President Donald Trump “ain’t black” sparked renewed calls from Democrats for Biden to choose a woman of color.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s record as a prosecutor and lack of outreach to black and Latino communities was coming under intense scrutiny just as Floyd’s death in police custody ignited days of uprisings in her state of Minnesota.

After the “Breakfast Club” interview, a Democratic operative in Minnesota said, “That probably put a nail in the coffin for Amy Klobuchar at that point. He’s going to have to put a black woman on the ticket.” As the protests unfolded this week, Rep. Jim Clyburn of South Carolina agreed that it was “tough timing” for the Minnesota senator. (Klobuchar told interviewers that the decision is Biden’s to make, and she trusts he’ll choose wisely.)

“I’m not here for false equivalencies — you have a president who is making not-so-veiled threats of violence at people who are in the middle of uprisings over a murder caught on video,” Rashad Robinson, president of the Color of Change coalition, said of Biden’s process in selecting a running mate. “At the same time, Biden should not go into this election thinking that he has black folks, and particularly young black people and black progressives, sewed up.

“He’s going to have to do things to activate that,” Robinson added. “In this moment, he needs to pick a partner that can help him do the heavy lifting of both bringing people together and moving us forward. And that partner has to be someone that has a level of trust and has a connection to the community.”

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