Joe Biden’s comments on race late last week have carried over into this week more than he might have anticipated they would.
The former Vice President told CNN’s Dana Bash that he wouldn’t commit to picking a woman of color for his running mate, leaving many wondering just how in God’s name he might try to make things better with black voters after his latest gaffe.
As we’ve mentioned here before, the women of color that could be up for the spot include Kamala Harris and Stacey Abrams (the latter is highly unlikely at this point, as we’ve pointed out several times). Other contenders include Elizabeth Warren, who appears to be making a bigger play for the spot by hosting big money fundraisers for Biden; Gretchen Whitmer, whose star is fading fast; and Amy Klobuchar, who is still one of his best chances to solidify support in the midwest states Trump won in 2016.
But there is a problem with Klobuchar: Black and Hispanic activists are warning Biden against her.
But more than a dozen black and Latino strategists and activists warned in interviews that selecting Klobuchar would not help Biden excite black voters — and might have the opposite effect. Klobuchar would “risk losing the very base the Democrats need to win,” said Aimee Allison, founder of She the People, which promotes women of color in politics. They pointed to Klobuchar’s poor performance among nonwhite voters during the presidential primary, as well as her record as a prosecutor in Minnesota.
But the vocal contingent of African American and Latino detractors — many of whom said they would prefer that Biden select a black woman as a running mate — is unique to Klobuchar; Elizabeth Warren, another top contender for VP, doesn’t elicit similar antagonism from communities of color.
There is a key piece of information in the POLITICO story referenced above that fits with what else we know about Biden’s focus in determining who his running mate should be.
It’s not yet clear how much the opposition of activists matters to Biden. He’s made clear that the electoral politics of his pick matter less than choosing someone who can be a governing partner and step into the top job without worry.
This type of thought process is why we can be comfortable eliminating Abrams from the running: She has no electoral experience outside of winning a state legislative seat. Every other person on Trump’s shortlist has experience winning either a statewide election or a federal office.
Biden is very old school, and he’s being very deliberative in making his choice. But, his team might be listening to the activists more than he is, and they may be influencing the choice based on what activists are suggesting.
We’ve still got a lot of time before he really has to make his choice, and it’s not as though he can send a running mate out to campaign for him right now. Expect to see more info start “leaking” out once June really gets rolling, as we’ll be into summer and the Biden team needs to start getting the campaign back into gear.