The first primary of the 2020 election season hasn’t even taken place but speculation over who would be the eventual Democratic nominee’s running mate was already nearing a fever pitch. The topic was revisited in the hours ahead of the first Democratic debate of the year on Tuesday when the Sacramento Bee published an interview with front-runner and former Vice President Joe Biden.
One of the main takeaways was how Biden said he’d be open to having Kamala Harris be his vice-presidential candidate should he win the Democratic nomination.
“She’s qualified to be president, and I’d consider her for anything that she would be interested in,” Biden told the Bee’s California Nation podcast.
While Biden has hinted in the past at possible running mates, Tuesday was the first time he mentioned the name of Harris, with whom he sparred over the topic of race during the second Democratic debate back in June.
Biden’s name-dropping of Harris was timely because she has increasingly been discussed in the context of a vice presidential running mate for the eventual nominee since she suspended her campaign last month. Immediately afterward there was speculation about Harris’ chances at being a vice-presidential candidate. Staff writers at New York’s Intelligencer cited Harris’ low polling as a reason why she may not be the best choice as a running mate. But Washington Post editorial writer Jennifer Rubin made a compelling case for why Harris should be considered.
“She brings prosecutorial zeal and verbal dexterity (always helpful when the VP assumes the attack-dog mantle), relative youth (55 years vs. Biden’s 77) and diversity to the ticket,” Rubin wrote about a potential Biden-Harris ticket while listing additional reasons the California senator would be an attractive running mate for other candidates including Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders.
The Atlantic wondered if the splintered state of Harris’ campaign — the “leaking, backbiting, and blame-slinging by her staff” — damaged her chances at being picked to run for vice president.
But with so many of the remaining candidates borrowing from Harris’ campaign playbook — including Biden, who was set to add her former national campaign finance chairman to his own team — that line of thinking from the Atlantic may be flawed.
Biden, the presumed nominee based on his consistently high polling since he declared his candidacy, previously appeared to be laying the groundwork for a potential ticket with Stacey Abrams, the rising star of the Democratic Party who lost her bid to become Georgia’s first Black woman governor following the 2018 midterm election marred by voter suppression.
As a Black woman, Abrams could also bring some of the same qualities as Harris to the top of a Democratic presidential ticket. But Harris may enjoy more name recognition than Abrams, another important quality that the eventual nominee would likely consider.
With such a glaring void of diversity among the remaining candidates combined with the popular sentiment that the Democratic ticket should not be two white men, Harris could be not just the safe bet, but the best bet as a vice-presidential candidate.