Biden campaign assembling VP selection committee

Brittany Shepherd
National Politics Reporter

Former Vice President Joe Biden, now the presumptive Democrat nominee, told donors Wednesday afternoon that his campaign is mobilizing a team to help pick his running mate. 

“We are putting in place, which we can do with abandon now, a mechanism to be able to vet the vice presidential potential picks,” Biden said, when asked if he’s going to be announcing his running mate after the last primary in June.

It’s not entirely clear who in Biden’s campaign will be part of the committee, or if outside voices will also be consulted. 

On Wednesday morning, Bernie Sanders, Biden’s only remaining rival for the Democratic nomination, ended his presidential bid. That move has freed up major party players, such as former President Barack Obama, to make an endorsement in the race without choosing between Biden and Sanders.

After committing during the March 15 Democratic presidential debate to select a woman as his running mate, Biden again stressed that intention Wednesday. 

Former Vice President Joe Biden at a virtual press briefing on a laptop on March 25. (Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

“There are many women with the experience and background to do that job, and that includes women of color. And so I’m putting together a list of the people that I would consider for that job,” Biden said. 

On the call, Biden did not refer to any particular candidate, although former rival Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., and former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams have been rumored to be at the top of the campaign’s shortlist. Rep. Jim Clyburn, D-S.C., whose late-cycle endorsement is credited with resuscitating Biden’s campaign, has publicly pushed for Biden to select an African-American woman as his running mate, and counts Rep. Marcia Fudge, D-Ohio, and former national security adviser Susan Rice among his preferred picks, Axios reported.

On Wednesday, Biden told his donors that he turned to Obama for advice on what qualities he should be looking for in a running mate. According to Biden, Obama said that one of the key factors in their own relationship was that they could balance out one another’s political experiences. Biden, Obama told him, should seek out an individual with similarly complementary qualities. 

“So I’m going to need a woman vice president who has the capacity, has strengths where I have weaknesses,” Biden said, adding, “I’m looking for someone who will be a partner in this process. Someone who is simpatico.”

Sen. Bernie Sanders announcing his withdrawal from the presidential race on Wednesday. (Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Typically, running mates are announced in the days leading up to a party’s national convention. In response to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the Democratic National Committee pushed its conference back from mid-July to mid-August. The Republican National Committee's convention is set for late August. With the final Democratic primary scheduled in June, and Biden having suspended in-person campaigning thanks to the coronavirus, he has already faced pressure to finalize his ticket before Democrats hold their convention in Milwaukee. 

Biden signaled Wednesday that an early announcement is possible, saying he could decide on a running mate before the “usual time.” 

Until then, however, he said there was much work to be done. 

“It’s going to take a while just to get through the vetting and get down to making a determination,” said Biden. 

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