Vice President Joe Biden faces the most important decision of his political career: choosing a vice president. Biden has already committed to picking a woman. A big part of what makes the selection so important is that Biden is 77 years old, will turn 78 soon after if elected, and if he wins, he would be the oldest American president in history. After a first term, he will be 82 and after a second term 86.
Biden’s Vice-Presidential decision will also be made with the backdrop of the corona virus pandemic. In addition to the death toll, the pandemic is having a devasting effect on the world economy. The corona virus pandemic recovery will no doubt shape the Biden administration as much as the pandemic has defined the Trump Administration as being incompetent and revealing Trump as man unfit to be President.
Biden will need a Vice President that must have immediate credibility and who can help in crisis recovery. He will need someone he can rely on and who is dependable under pressure, in time of crisis, and who is more concerned about the good of the country and not the pulse of the President. Biden is also facing pressure on multiple fronts. The Democratic Party is far more diverse racially, ethnically and ideologically than the Republican Party could ever hope to be and has become the Trump Party
Biden is under pressure to select an African American running mate, especially a black woman. According to the polls, it was African American women who propelled his nomination after he lost the first 3 primaries to Bernie Sanders and he recovered with his win in South Carolina. After South Carolina, Biden won virtually every primary and now has an insurmountable lead that compelled Bernie Sanders to finally withdraw from the race.
NAMES BEING CIRCULATED
On April 8, the Washington Post published an article written by columnist Aaron Blake where he identifies and ranks those women who make the most sense to be Joe Biden’s running mate for Vice President. Follow is an extensively edited version of the list, with additions and changes made in the rankings and with the link to the story:
11. Stacey Abrams: Stacey Abrams is a former Georgia State Representative. Abrams in 2018 ran an exceptionally strong campaign for Georgia Governor. Soon after her loss, she played down thoughts of her running for President and instead said she would consider being the Vice-Presidential nominee. She has not served in any office beyond the state legislature, but she has popularity within the party. Biden may want to pick her in hopes of making a “purple state” a blue state” and making it Democratic. However, are far mor more-competitive battleground states in play.
10. Former United Nations Ambassador Susan E. Rice: She served on the National Security Council and in a high-ranking State Department role in the Clinton administration. She was United Nations ambassador and national security adviser in the Obama administration. She’s also an African American woman and has recently shown an interest in elective politics, and considered running against Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) this year. The one most obvious drawback here: She was in line to possibly become President Barack Obama’s secretary of state but withdrew after the Benghazi, Libya, attack threatened to make her confirmation “lengthy, disruptive and costly,” in her words. She came under sharp criticism for being misleading about the nature of that attack.
9. U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth: Senator Duckworth is from Illinois and a former member of the House. She is a Purple Heart recipient who lost both of her legs in Iraq conflict and was the first disabled woman elected to Congress. In 2018, she became the first senator to give birth while in office. She has a diverse background as the daughter of a Thai mother of Chinese descent.
8. U.S. Representative Val Demings: Although she has been in federal office for just a little more than three years, she served as one of the House Impeachment Managers that impeached President Trump. She is an African American and a former Police Chief of Orlando, Florida. In 2006 she was a much-hyped House candidate in the 2012 election and lost. She went on to run for mayor of Orange County, Fla., but dropped out in 2015.
7. U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto: Senator Cortez Masto was elected to the Senate in 2016 and previously served as Nevada’s attorney general for two terms. The Democrats have the advantage of winning Nevada in that it has trended to the left in recent years. What is more important is that she is Hispanic, as is Michelle Lujan Grisham, and a female Hispanic will help Biden in the states of New Mexico, California, Texas and Arizona. The Hispanic population is generally concentrated in southern border states, led by New Mexico (49.1% Hispanic), Texas (39.6% Hispanic), California (39.3%) and Arizona (31.6%). In 2000, there were 10 states that had Hispanic populations of at least 10% of the total. The Hispanic vote could easily result in a win in any close race.
6. N.M. Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham: Governor Lujan Grisham was elected New Mexico’s first Democratic Hispanic Governor in 2018. She’s among the relatively few Hispanic women who currently serve in high office in the United States, but is unknown nationally until recently because of her dealing with the pandemic (see below). Lujan Grisham is a former U.S. House member and former chairwoman of the congressional Hispanic caucus and knows how Washington works. Although New Mexico is not a battleground state with only 5 selectorial college votes, Lujan Grisham’s Hispanic background could help Biden with the emerging Hispanic populations in swing states.
5. Senator Elizabeth Warren: The Massachusetts Senator Warren could help unite the party after the Democratic primary. She overlaps with Independent Senator Bernie Sanders on many policies and could help make sure those voters don’t stay home or cross over and vote for Trump. She will turn 71 in June and for that reason would not be the best candidate as Vice President for 78 year old Biden. Warren was viciously attack by Trump early on for her claim of Native American heritage, and no doubt she will be attacked again.
4. U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin: This potential pick for Vice President comes from one of the battleground states Biden needs to get elected. Baldwin has served as a senator from Wisconsin since 2012, when she became the first openly gay person ever elected to the Senate. Two years after Trump’s narrow win in Wisconsin, she won reelection by 11 points in 2018.
3. Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer: Michigan is one of the three key battleground states that Trump carried narrowly in 2016, with Pennsylvania and Wisconsin being the other two. Governor Whitmer has been among Trump’s most vocal critics during the coronavirus outbreak so much so that Trump referred to her as “that woman” and he told Vice President Pence not to call Whitmer because of her criticism. Trump’s handling of the pandemic and the federal response to the states is turning more and more into a presidential election year issues and she has been at the forefront.
2. Senator Kamala D. Harris: California Senator Harris is the most logical choice by many. She’s the only African American woman serving as either a governor or senator. After an early and impressive campaign beginning which included 20,000 at her announcement, her campaign faltered. She is a former Attorney General of California who earned a reputation as a highly aggressive prosecutor. It was her aggressive approach as a prosecutor that emerged during one early Presidential debate when she attacked in highly personal terms former Vice President Biden over his past position on school busing. Notwithstanding, Harris could easily be an effective Vice-Presidential candidate assuming the attack role reserved for Vice Presidential candidates.
1. U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar: The Minnesota Senator gave Biden a major boost in his campaign when she dropped out of the race and endorsed Biden before the Super Tuesday primaries helping Biden win her home state. Klobuchar earned strong reviews for her debate performances. She has the kind of Midwestern appeal that will help in states as Michigan or Wisconsin. She is considered a more pragmatic candidate and for that reason would not appeal to most progressive who supported Bernie Sanders and who want Medicare-for-all which she criticized in the debates.
COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS
A. GOVERNOR MICHELLE LUJAN GRISHAM
New Mexico has become accustomed to its Governors having higher ambitions and seeking the office of President or Vice President. Bill Richardson was said to want to be Vice President under Bill Clinton, was appointed UN Secretary by Clinton and then later ran for President himself. Gary Johnson ran for President as the Libertarian candidate for President in 2019. Even former Republican Governor “She Who Must Not Be Named” was said to have high hopes on a national level, especially after she spoke at the Republican National Convention, until she had a Christmas Pizza Party in a luxury hotel room in Santa Fe and we all found out what many knew about her privately.
On Sunday, April 12, Governor Lujan Grisham upped her national profile with an appearance on CNN’s “State of the Union” when she told host Jake Tapper that she’ll do “what’s right” for her state to slow coronavirus spread even if President Donald Trump eases up on social distancing guidelines come May and said “We’re going to make the decisions that safeguard New Mexicans.”
Lujan Grisham was also profiled in a story in the Washington Times when she expanded her mass gatherings ban to combat spread of the coronavirus to include churches and other houses of worship on Easter saying “While this will be emotionally difficult for so many New Mexicans, public health must be the top priority. The only way to slow the spread of COVID-19 is by staying home and minimizing all person-to-person contact”.
New Mexicans should feel a sense of pride that Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham is being mentioned as former Vice President Joe Biden’s running mate. Notwithstanding, New Mexico needs Governor Lujan Grisham here and now. She has been Governor now for less than 15 months and must deal not only the pandemic but the inevitable financial crisis that has been bought on to the state revenues as a result of the imploding New Mexico Oil industry. She has already announced a special session for June.
It is clear that the corona virus is a very infectious disease that is spreading like a wild fire throughput the world, the United States and now New Mexico. Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham is earning high marks with dealing the crisis. She is taking action to get a handle on the health crisis and it’s called leadership. There is no doubt that Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham knows what she is doing and declaring a “Public Health Emergency” was without a doubt the right call.
Governor Lujan Grisham has the experience, knowledge and credentials to deal with the pandemic crisis. From 2004-2007 she served as the Secretary of the Department of Health, the agency that now assumes power in making decisions regarding coronavirus and public safety. The Governor also served as a longtime director of the New Mexico Agency on Aging, now the Aging and Long-Term Services Department, experience that is timely because the coronavirus is most serious for individuals over 60, many of whom are in nursing facilities that the Governor as a cabinet secretary oversaw.
If Governor Michelle Lujan in fact gets a phone call from Joe Biden’s for an interview, we should all hope that she says very politely: “Mr. Vic President, I am deeply honored, thanks, but no thanks. I need to stay home for now and finish the job I have started, at least for the next 6 years”.
B. BIDEN SHOULD SELECT FORMER FIRST LADY MICHELLE OBAMA
The one woman that seems to be absent from a number of lists for Vice-Presidential for Joe Biden is former First Lady Michelle Obama. She should seriously be considered and asked to continue her family’s service to our country in a time when the type of leadership she could bring is so desperately needed.
Michelle Obama is product of Chicago public school system. The former first lady studied sociology and African-American studies at Princeton University. After graduating from Harvard Law School in 1988, she joined the Chicago law firm Sidley & Austin, where she later met future President Barack Obama.
After a few years, Mrs. Obama decided her true calling was working with people to serve their communities and their neighbors. She served as assistant commissioner of planning and development in Chicago’s City Hall before becoming the founding executive director of the Chicago chapter of Public Allies, an AmeriCorps program that prepares youth for public service.
In 1996, Mrs. Obama joined the University of Chicago with a vision of bringing campus and community together. As Associate Dean of Student Services, she developed the university’s first community service program, and under her leadership as Vice President of Community and External Affairs for the University of Chicago Medical Center, volunteerism skyrocketed.
Mrs. Obama continued her efforts to support and inspire young people during her time as First Lady. In 2010, she launched Let’s Move!, bringing together community leaders, educators, medical professionals, parents, and others in a nationwide effort to address the challenge of childhood obesity. As the first African American First Lady, she inspired generations of African American girls and young woman. She also protected and raised two fine daughters under the glare of the White House press core.
One thing for certain is Michelle Obama could bring a sense of true excitement to the Presidential race, once again creating a solid working relationship not only with a President Joe Biden but also new First Lady Dr. Jill Biden. Also being the wife of former President Barack Obama can only help.