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Home / US / Joe Biden narrows his VP list, and Karen Bass becomes one of several key contenders

Joe Biden narrows his VP list, and Karen Bass becomes one of several key contenders

In more than two dozen CNN interviews in recent days, members of Congress, leading Democrat donors, Biden allies and others close to the vice presidential vetting process said the California Rep. Karen Bass, 66-year-old chairman of the Black Caucasus Congress. , gained real traction at a late stage of the search. Among the frantic lobbying at the last minute and speculations about Biden’s historic decision, California Senators Kamala Harris and Susan Rice, a former national security adviser to Barack Obama, are also considered among the most serious contenders.

The search continues in secret, and even many top campaign advisers in the dark about the verification process. Several additional women were also screened by Biden̵

7;s staff, including Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Val Deming’s reputation, and Illinois’s Tammy Duckworth. Others, including Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Botms, Michigan Gretchen Whitmer, and New Mexico Gov. Michel Lucian Grisham, were also inspected by a group of inspectors.

Biden’s team has not yet told any of the women they took seriously for the vice-presidential role that they are officially coming to an end, people familiar with the process said, from one source, that 11 women are still being formally considered.

Bass’s new appearance as one of the main contenders was prompted by intense lobbying on her behalf by some of her colleagues in the House, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, influential California Democrats and top donors. In recent weeks, they have been addressing members of Biden’s inner circle, making a passionate case of why a congresswoman should not be overlooked. Her supporters portrayed her as a well-known and respected member of the House, a team player with experience working with Republicans and the state legislature, an African-American woman with a compelling biography, humble roots, and especially a safe political choice.

“I think Karen has been counting since day one,” said Steve Westley, a former California state controller and Biden’s chief fundraiser, who said he was glad to see Bass and Harris on Biden’s list.

“Everyone likes Karen Bass. People are scratching their heads, saying who is this woman?” he said. “When you were the speaker of parliament for a state that is twice the population of New York and the world’s fifth largest economy, you know how to run the media, you understand the economy. I think it’s stronger than people think.”

Another unmistakable dynamic that has emerged in recent days: the intense efforts of some of Biden’s allies to torpedo Harris’ chances of choice.

Even as Biden has publicly praised Harris in recent months, some of his supporters – both private and public – have continued to question the press, sometimes using sexist language, about whether Harris will be a reliable player on the team, often citing Harris’s famous attack on Biden in the top democratic debate on the issue of violence.

One Democrat aide who knew the search process suggested this blunt observation: “The Biden allies are laying the groundwork for the vice president to have a reason not to choose her.”

In several media reports, Biden’s allies attacked Harris’ motives. Florida donor John Morgan complained that Harris “will run for president on the day of the inauguration. For me, loyalty and friendship must mean something,” Chris Dodd, a member of Deputy Prime Minister Biden’s inspection team, reportedly complained to a donor who showed Harris “without reproach” when asked about her famous fight with Biden on the debate stage.

Former Pennsylvania government and Biden supporter Ed Rendell, who said he doesn’t currently have a favorite to find a running partner, said in an interview that Bass is seen as a “very safe choice” in a way that Harris simply isn’t.

“Kamala can crush people wrong. Karen Bass most likely won’t do that,” Rendell said. “Rule number one for choosing VP? Don’t hurt.”

Biden was clearly preparing to defend Harris at a news conference Tuesday in Wilmington, Delaware, with a photo of a notebook showing these bullet points under Harris’ name: “Don’t be annoyed.” “Campaign with me and Jill.” “Talented.” “Great campaign help.” “Great respect for her.”

The recent attacks on Harris have sparked cries of sexism.

“It’s not about whining that we are not being treated fairly, although I would argue that these are not such women,” said Karen Finney, Hillary Clinton’s chief campaign assistant in 2016. “We know it’s an old trail that says you can’t trust an ambitious woman.”

Biden’s campaign largely refused to publicly criticize Harris until this week, when campaign leader Jen O’Malley Dillon responded to reports that Harris was considered some too ambitious.

“Ambitious women make history, change the world and win,” Dillon wrote on Twitter. “Our campaign is full of ambitious women who are going to Joe Biden. He will make that decision, and it’s clear: whoever he chooses from the very qualified options that will help him win and unite the country, it will be the same.”

One of the reasons Harris came under fire is that she has long been considered a favorite to be Biden’s running partner. Her supporters point out that she has already been tested on the national stage as a presidential candidate, and is unlikely to surprise the campaign with any unknown at the last minute. Although her 2020 campaign ended long before Iowa resigned, Harris supporters say she gained loyalty after running for the White House and that she will make history as the nation’s first Black Asian vice presidential candidate.

Meanwhile, Rice’s appearance as a serious rival surprised some in Biden’s world, given her limited campaign experience. But her close allies point to her own time in the executive branch and her deep foreign policy background during the global turmoil. They also say that Biden’s long-term working relationship with Rice should not be underestimated, especially given how he emphasized the desire of a partner who is “nice to me.”

“If there was ever a time to pick someone without campaign experience, it would be a year,” said a CNing member of the Obama administration who knows Rice well, CNN said. “Susan would be the best management partner.”

As months of intensive scrutiny now draw to a close, the final decision rests with Biden and his wife, Jill, who has become one of his closest advisers in the process. She conducted virtual promotions with almost all potential candidates, but did not participate in any of the interviews conducted by the search commission, according to people who know the process. Biden’s campaign has also begun to form a team to serve the upcoming vice presidential election, a source close to the campaign said, but did not specify who would run.

When Biden told reporters earlier this week that he would choose a running partner in the first week of August, two aides told CNN that the announcement deadline was likely to be postponed until August 10. However, Biden’s advisers gave him a deadline next week to form his opinion, said a person familiar with the process.

Biden enters the final reflection when the country faces a health crisis and an economic recession. President Donald Trump’s approval rating has dealt a severe blow to the coronavirus pandemic, a reality that close allies say should prompt Biden to choose a running partner, regardless of how much he could offer in any other election cycle. specific running partner.

“They don’t need to swing over fences; they don’t need it to be a distraction. They don’t need to go with someone who isn’t being checked, or someone who is loud or random,” a close Biden supporter said by touching his inner circle.

“If he decided, he didn’t tell anyone,” Biden’s longtime friend told CNN. “But knowing him, he will not make a final decision until the last moment.”

CNN’s Arlette Saenz and Annie Grayer contributed to this report.

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