There’s a shadow campaign of sorts being waged against some of the women Joe Biden has been considering for his vice-presidential running mate in an effort to discredit them before they’re potentially selected to run. It was an indication of how apparently desperate Republicans have become to keep Donald Trump in power, an increasingly diminishing prospect as the country descends deeper into the coronavirus pandemic because of the mismanagement from the president and his administration.
There’s just one thing, though: Those same Republicans have thus far come up empty in their quest to dig up dirt on the vice-presidential hopefuls. The seemingly futile effort has revolved around two potential vice-presidential candidates who just happen to be Black: California Rep. Karen Bass and former National Security Adviser Susan Rice, whose chances of being selected have each increased substantially in recent weeks. (California Sen. Kamala Harris, also widely seen as a leading contender in the so-called “veepstakes,” has gotten some of that treatment, too, only her attacks are instead coming from Democrats. More on that later.)
Detractors on Friday posted a decade-old video of Bass speaking at a Scientology event and had favorable words about its controversial founder, L. Ron Hubbard, whose self-discovered religion has been accused of “secretive teachings, alleged shady business dealings, and purported abuses of its followers, former members, and their families,” as Business Insider describes it. Bass responded in kind to what is ultimately a nothingburger by saying in part that Scientology had in the years since been “exposed” for its beliefs that are “very different than my own.”
Two days later, Bass found herself having to answer for speaking kindly following Cuban leader Fidel Castro‘s death in 2006. She said Sunday that she now realizes she was wrong to praise the man who is both still revered and hated by Cubans, depending on which ones you ask. “I absolutely would have not put that statement out,” Bass said during a taping of “Fox News Sunday.“
Bass was far from alone in experiencing heightened scrutiny for the women Biden is considering for his running mate.
In Rice’s case, the former United States Ambassador to the United Nations also came under fire Friday as a Washington Post columnist suggested she was unft to be vice president because she described South Carolina Sen. and Trump loyalist Lindsay Graham as a piece of sh-t.” Dana Milbank called Rice “a human lightning rod” and mentioned the accusations that she intentionally released incorrect information about the Benghazi scandal in 2012. But Congress ultimately cleared Rice of any wrongdoing, something she reminded Joy Behar during an appearance on “The View” last week.
“Not one of [the members of Congress investigating her] found that I had deliberately misled the American people, but I don’t doubt that the Republicans will use this, and they’ll attack whoever is Joe Biden’s choice to be his vice president. But let’s be honest about what this is,” Rice said on the daytime talk show. “This is dishonest, and it’s a distraction.”
For Harris, the spotlight was being shone on her by some Democrats, who, according to a CNBC report, have banded together too prevent Biden from choosing her. The unconventional wisdom the group is using points to her dispute with Biden on the debate stage on the topic of race last year. Perhaps most insulting, some of Harris’ Democratic detractors are climbing she is too ambitious to be vice president (as if there has ever been a vice president who did not also aspire to be president…).
Perhaps the most comforting takeaway from all of this for Bass, Harris and Rice is that polling shows Democrats overwhelmingly want Biden to pick a Black woman to be his vice president, something that stands in contrast to the folks urging for the selection of Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren.
However, it is still unclear who Biden will pick as he’s been relatively mum on the topic and has very noncommital on the multiple occasions when he’s been asked if he will select a Black woman.
Biden has given himself a deadline of this week to announce his choice.