When former Vice President Joe Biden began thinking of potential running mates this spring, one of the first people to come to mind was Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.).
She was a friend to his late son Beau Biden, former top prosecutor for the state of California and the kind of fighter needed in a campaign against President Trump. On top of all that, she already had been through the slugfest of a presidential primary campaign, which included several direct confrontations with Biden himself.
Over the weekend, upon making his final decision, Biden finished where he began.
“She was always in the narrative from the beginning,” said one source who is close to Biden. “And even after that, it was always Kamala and this person and Kamala and that person. She was never ever out of the picture. She was always in the mix.”
Another confidant characterized Biden’s final decision as “classic Joe.”
“He did what he always does,” the source said. “Whenever there’s a discussion about policy or the issues of the day, he would come in with what he thought but he will and does entertain everyone’s opinions.”
“At certain points, it seems like he may change his mind, but typically he ends up where he starts,” the confidant added.
After pledging to pick a woman as his running mate, Biden brought in various Democrats, including Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.), Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, former national security adviser Susan Rice, and Reps. Karen Bass (Calif.) and Val Demings (Fla.).
“I think he wanted to consider every qualified woman out there,” the confidant said. “Whitmer definitely was having a moment with COVID, Keisha Lance Bottoms also caught his attention, Val Demings also looked good for a while there, he liked Elizabeth Warren’s ideas. He basically wanted to try all of that on for size and see how it added up.”
“But I think he felt like [Harris] was not only the best person for the campaign, but the best partner to govern the country,” the confidant added.
Biden talked at length about nominating someone he is close with – a partner that he said would be “simpatico” with him personally and professionally.
That added an emotional element into the mix that led some to believe he would pick Rice, a trusted colleague from their time in the Obama administration.
David Axelrod, who was a senior White House adviser in the Obama administration, wrote in a CNN op-ed Tuesday after the announcement that Biden reportedly clicked well with Whitmer. The Michigan governor was flown to Delaware to meet with Biden just days before Tuesday’s announcement.
But in the end, it was the emotional tug of his son Beau Biden that may have tipped the scales.
Beau died of brain cancer in 2015 at the age of 46. Biden was devastated by his son’s death and declined to run for president in 2016 as he mourned.
Now, as the presumptive Democratic nominee, Biden cast his selection of Harris in part as a tribute to his late son, remembering how Beau introduced him to her.
At the time, Harris was attorney general of California and Beau was attorney general of Delaware.
“[Beau] had enormous respect for her and her work,” Biden said. “I thought a lot about that as I made this decision. There is no one’s opinion I valued more than Beau’s and I’m proud to have Kamala standing with me on this campaign.”
There were, of course, political considerations for Biden as well.
Democrats say it was imperative he choose a woman of color following the May 25 police killing of George Floyd that provoked a national conversation about race.
During the selection process, a group of influential Black women pressed Biden to choose a Black running mate. A source close to the campaign said Biden’s conversations with renowned Democratic advisers Minyon Moore, Donna Brazile, Leah Daughtry and Karen Finney “stuck with the VP” during an important moment in the country’s history.
Story cited here.