Months before the first presidential primary was scheduled to take place, political pundits and politicians alike have been eagerly gravitating toward the notion that Joe Biden is the presumptive Democratic nominee in the 2020 election.
Even before the former vice president made his candidacy official, there were rumors floating around that he wanted to groom Stacey Abrams to be his running mate. There seemed to be no doubt in his mind that he would be the next president. The only question, it seemed, was who would be his running mate.
Folks ate up that narrative quickly, looking for what they thought was the perfect combination of candidates to defeat the incumbent Team MAGA, which was supposed to be the overall objective of Democrats. Even senior members of the Congressional Black Caucus reportedly came out and said that having Kamala Harris as Biden’s vice presidential running mate was “a dream ticket.” (Nevermind that Harris, along with New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, who is also running for president, is a member of the Congressional Black Caucus.)
Harris, of course, along with the literal dozens of other Democrats running for president, couldn’t be faulted if they took at least a little bit of umbrage at the presumption that Biden would be the last man standing at the 2020 Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee. The California senator is probably well aware of how wildly inaccurate polling can be, especially so far ahead of the general election. Keeping those two probabilities in mind, Harris’ comments at a campaign stop in New Hampshire on Wednesday shouldn’t have shocked anyone.
When asked her thoughts about a Biden-Harris ticket, she didn’t hesitate.
“I think Joe Biden would be a great running mate,” Harris said, smiling. “As vice president, he’s shown he can do the job.”
While Harris’ words were indeed open to interpretation — What exactly did she mean by running mate? Does that mean Biden would be leading the ticket? What “job” is she talking about, vice president or president? — chances are she was tired of hearing the speculation that diminished her credibility as a presidential candidate.
After all, Harris was in New Hampshire talking about issues like women’s healthcare in the face of Alabama’s pending law that would make abortion illegal in the state.
She addressed gun control too as mass shootings, especially at schools, were showing no signs of letting up.
A lot of people were there to see her, too.
The presumption that Biden will lead the Democratic ticket also disregards the fact that there are a record number of women running for president. A common refrain heard among progressive voices is that the Democratic ticket must have some semblance of diversity. And yes, a Biden-Harris ticket would indeed accomplish that. But there have also been questions about how effective Capitol Hill lifers (read: old white men in Washington) can be as the country inches closer to white people becoming a minority.
The most recent national poll had Harris tied for third place with Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who many also feel is the best candidate. Those two were polling behind Biden and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who was in second place. But, again, Donald Trump was polling lower than Hillary Clinton in 2016, and we all know how that turned out.
Only time will tell how Democrats decide to proceed with their nominating process, but with an uncertain future looming for the Party, which has all but been held up by Black women, especially recently, it might behoove Party leaders to nix the narrative of Harris definitively being anybody’s No. 2.