Joe Biden has reportedly narrowed his vice-presidential search, with Sen. Kamala Harris and former national security adviser Susan Rice taking the top two spots and Rep. Karen Bass trailing in third. The choice carries more weight than a normal running-mate selection, because whomever Biden picks could very well take over the presidency at some point. Biden has not committed to running for a second term if he wins the presidency, saying ‘let’s win this election then see where we are. Let’s see what happens,’ potentially leaving the door wide open for his vice president in 2024 race.
Of course, the choice is nearly as pressing for the Trump campaign. The campaign has so far kept its opposition research close to the chest, but it no doubt has stacks of files ready on each potential pick and a strategic favorite — a running mate that it thinks gives Trump the best shot at defeating Biden.
At first glance, Bass seems like the obvious loser of the bunch. She has not been thoroughly vetted and has already faced a string of disastrous headlines over the past week. Bass praised the Church of Scientology during a ribbon-cutting event in 2010, spoke favorably of dictator Fidel Castro after his death in 2016, and has been photographed at events with leaders of the Nation of Islam.
‘Among a group of dwarves, she is the smallest,’ GOP strategist Ned Ryun told The Spectator.
Bass struggled to explain some of these troubling comments from her past during Sunday show appearances, but the negative press hasn’t stopped: on Tuesday, the Daily Caller reported that Bass once called former Communist Party USA official Oneil Marion Cannon her ‘mentor’.
Presumably the Biden campaign isn’t daft enough to choose Bass after all of this, and Axios noted in a report that she is in third place due to her ‘faltering performance on the Sunday shows.’ So that leaves Harris and Rice.
Rice is ‘absolutely our No. 1 draft pick’, according to a Trump campaign official who spoke anonymously to Politico. Rice would certainly fire up the Trump base due to her involvement in the Benghazi scandal and Russiagate — she was notably one of the Obama officials who requested the unmasking of Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn, whose name was later leaked to the media as allegedly having inappropriate contacts with Russia.
Still, Rice is unlikely to alienate moderates who see her, like Biden, as the continuation of an Obama presidency and she’s relatively inoffensive to the progressive wing of the Democratic party. What the Trump campaign really needs is an individual who will allow Trump to pick off voters from the wavering middle and convince diehard ideologues to stay home. Harris might be that person.
She already struggled to woo black voters to her own presidential campaign, despite leaning into her identity on the campaign trail, and her history as a prosecutor only furthered the perception that she wasn’t a champion for her community. ‘Copmala’ and ‘Kamala is a cop’ were more than just taunts from Trump’s base — they were messages that resonated with black voters and the woke left. If Trump is able to shave a couple of percentage points off Biden’s lead with black voters, Ryun argued, the former vice president could be in big trouble. Biden used to be able to carry the black vote himself, but black political strategists have told me behind the scenes that they are — remember you ‘ain’t black’, for instance — are chipping away at his once-solid support. That makes it all the more important that Biden’s VP pick is someone who black voters can really get behind. Harris is the weakest out of the final three contenders on that point. The fact campaign officials are letting it be known they want a Biden-Rice ticket perhaps means they secretly want it be Harris.