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Home / US / Joe Biden narrows his VP list, with Karen Bass emerging as one of the top contenders

Joe Biden narrows his VP list, with Karen Bass emerging as one of the top contenders

In more than two dozen interviews with CNN in recent days, members of Congress, top Democratic donors, Biden allies and others close to the vice presidency control process said California Representative Karen Bass, President of Congress 66-year-old black from Congress. , has gained real traction in the late stage of the search. Amid furious last-minute lobbying and speculation over Biden’s historic decision, California Sen. Kamala Harris and Susan Rice, Barack Obama’s former national security adviser, are also believed to be one of the most contentious.

The search continues to be conducted in extreme secrecy, even many top campaign advisors in the dark about the review process. Some additional women have also passed an extensive review by the Biden team, including Sen. Elizabeth Massachusetts, Florida Representative Val Demings and Illinois Sen. Tammy Duckworth. Others, including Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, have also received several levels of control from the control team.


7;s team has not yet told women they have seriously considered the vice president’s role that they are officially out of order, according to people who knew the process, according to a source who says 11 women are still formally considered .

Bass’s new appearance as one of the main contenders has been driven by intense pressure from some of his colleagues in the House, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, influential California Democrats and donors. main. Members of Biden’s inner circle have been contacted in recent weeks, making a passionate case about why the congresswoman should not be overlooked in the search process. Her sponsors have portrayed her as a member of the House, a member she universally likes and respects, an experienced team player working with Republicans and leading a state legislature, an African-American woman with a compelling biography rooted in a humble beginnings and, above all, a safe political choice. who did not dance the boat.

“I think Karen has been counted from day one,” said Steve Westly, a former California state controller and Biden’s main fundraiser, who said he’s thrilled to see Bass and Harris on the list. Biden.

“Everyone likes Karen Bass. People scratch their heads saying, who is this woman?” He said. “When you talked about the legislature for a state that is twice the population of New York and the fifth largest economy in the world, you know how to manage the media, you understand the economy. I think it’s stronger than that people think. “

Another unmistakable dynamic that has emerged in recent days: an intense effort by some of Biden’s allies to torpedo the chances of being chosen by Harris.

Although Biden has publicly praised Harris in recent months, some of his supporters – both in private and in public – have continued to ask questions through the press, sometimes using sexist language, about whether Harris would be a trusted player. of the team, all too often. led to Harris’ famous attack on Biden in a primary Democratic debate on the subject of research.

A Democratic aide who knew the search process offered this blunt remark: “Biden’s allies are laying the groundwork for the vice president to have a reason not to choose her.”

In several media reports, Biden’s allies have attacked Harris’ motives. Florida donor John Morgan lamented that Harris “would run for president on the opening day. For me, loyalty and friendship should mean something,” said Chris Dodd, a member of Biden’s VP verification team, complained to a donor that Harris showed “no remorse” when asked about his famous clash with Biden on the debate stage.

Former Pennsylvania supporter Ed Rendell, who said he currently has no favorite looking for a running mate, said in an interview that Bass is considered a “very safe choice,” so Harris simply it is not. .

“Kamala can rub some people the wrong way. Karen Bass isn’t likely to do that,” Rendell said. “The number one rule for choosing the VP? It doesn’t hurt.”

Biden was clearly preparing to defend Harris at a press conference Tuesday in Wilmington, Delaware, with a photograph of a published card in which these points appeared with the name Harris: “Don’t hold squads.” “Campaign with me & Jill.” “Talented.” “A great help to campaign.” “Great respect for her.”

Recent attacks on Harris sparked cries of sexism.

“It’s not about regretting that we are not treated fairly, although I would argue that these women are not,” said Karen Finney, a senior aide to Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign. an old look that can’t be trusted by an ambitious woman. “

Harris herself told women on Friday at a Black Girls Lead 2020 conference program, “There will be resistance to your ambition, there will be people telling you ‘you’re out of your lane,’ treating the attacks against their reliability.” and ambition.for the first time this week.

“They’re charged only with having the ability to see what has always been instead of what it can be. But don’t give up on that,” he said, adding that he has lived his entire career.

Biden’s campaign has fallen sharply to publicly engage in criticism of Harris until this week, when campaign director Jen O’Malley Dillon responded to a report that some saw Harris as too ambitious.

“Ambitious women make history, change the world and win,” Dillon wrote on Twitter. “Our campaign is full of ambitious women who will all come out for Joe Biden. He will make that decision, and that’s clear: whoever chooses from the highly skilled options to help him win and unite the country, will also be one.”

One of the reasons Harris has been under fire is that she has long been considered a favorite to be Biden’s running mate. Supporters point out that she was already considered on the national stage as a presidential candidate and is unlikely to surprise the campaign with some last-minute unknowns. While his 2020 campaign ended long before the Iowa caucuses, Harris sponsors maintain that he got a loyal following with the White House candidacy and would make history as the first black vice presidential candidate and Asian country.

Meanwhile, Rice’s emergence as a serious contender has surprised some in the world of Biden, given his limited campaign experience. But his close allies point to his ruling credentials from his time in the executive branch and his deep history of foreign policy at a time of global crisis. They also say that Biden’s working relationship with Rice in recent years should not be underestimated, especially because he emphasizes wanting a partner who is “sympathetic to me”.

“If there was ever a time to pick someone with no campaign experience, this would be the year,” a member of the Obama administration cabinet, who knows Rice well, told CNN. “Susan would be the best partner in government.”

With the conclusion of the months of intensive review, the final decision rests with Biden and his wife, Jill, who has emerged as one of his closest advisers in the process. He has held virtual campaign events with almost all potential candidates, but has not participated in any interviews conducted by the research committee, according to people with knowledge of the process. The Biden campaign has also begun building the team that will be part of the upcoming vice presidential election, according to a source close to the campaign, but would not detail who will participate.

When Biden told reporters earlier this week that he would choose a career partner in the first week of August, two aides told CNN that the schedule for an ad was more likely to be met until the week of August 10, but Biden’s counselors gave him. indicated a deadline for next week to fix his mind, a person who knew the process.

Biden enters the final stretch of deliberations as the country faces a public health crisis and an economic recession. President Donald Trump’s approval rating has had a major impact on his handling of the coronavirus pandemic: a reality that future allies say he should offer Biden the room to choose a candidate for office without weighing what may in any other electoral and political cycle electoral advantages that a specific competitor may offer.

“They don’t need to turn around the fences; it doesn’t have to be a distraction. They don’t need to go with someone who isn’t tested, or someone flashy or random,” a Biden advocate said nearby. it touches with its inner circle.

“If he’s determined, he hasn’t told anyone,” a longtime Biden friend told CNN. “But knowing him, he won’t make a final decision until the very moment.”

This story has been updated with comments Kamala Harris made on Friday.

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

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