During Sunday night's Democratic debate, frontrunner Joe Biden vowed to pick a woman to be his running mate, should he receive the party nomination.
"If I'm elected as president, my cabinet, my administration, will look like the country and I commit that I will pick a woman to be vice president," Biden said. The former vice president emphasized the importance of a candidate's sex in the role not just of vice president but also in his first hypothetical Supreme Court pick, saying he would choose a black woman to serve on the bench. "If I'm elected president and have an opportunity to appoint someone to the court, I will appoint the first black woman to the courts. It is required they have representation now. It's long overdue."
After two decisive weeks of primary victories beginning with Super Tuesday, Biden's path to the Democratic nomination is clear. With party representation in the general election nearly in hand, public interest in potential running mates for Biden has been high as the former Senator from Delaware would be 78 years old at the beginning of his presidency. Speculation surrounding potential picks has ranged from fellow candidates who have ended their campaigns to a former acting Attorney General and failed gubernatorial candidate.
Now that Biden has made a person's sex the primary qualification for the second-highest office in the nation, the list of potential ticket mates has become clearer. Here are five women who could potentially join Team Biden in his quest for the White House.
As Biden's ideology and policy stances shift further to the left each passing day, his ability to appeal to centrist Democrats and disillusioned supporters of President Trump is diminished. Choosing a running mate like Klobuchar, who campaigned as the most traditional, centrist Democrat, would give Biden a chance to cast a wider net toward suburbia. The risk in choosing a more moderate liberal, however, would be alienating supporters of socialist rival Bernie Sanders who have largely bemoaned even Biden as being too conservative. The youngest generation of voters has demanded free college and Medicare for All, two stances which the senator from Minnesota has ardently opposed.
The former Deputy Attorney General, who was dismissed by Trump in 2017, endorsed Biden's run for president officially last week saying, "I trust him to always put the country's interests before his own; to tell us the truth; to appeal to our best, not our worst, instincts; to unite rather than divide us; and to always treat the presidency as a privilege rather than an entitlement." As a potential running mate, Yates could be appealing as she's a known figure who has been outspoken against Trump since her firing. Should Biden choose to run his campaign against the incumbent president as, "remove him at any cost," and not preach far-left ideology as he has been, Yates could be a sound selection that would ease the minds of more moderate voters. Her appeal to the most progressive wing of the party, however, is yet unproven.
While the 2016 Democratic nominee for president may seem like a wild card selection, she is the only person who has the receipts to show she can be a serious political contender who represents the party in an influential way. Losing to Trump by a hair four years ago, Clinton could buoy Biden's chances by injecting confidence into a campaign that has made voters nervous because of the candidate's age and tendency to change his mind on a whim. Clinton may not be able to appeal to enough of the country on her own, but presented as a solid back up to Biden, she could be a successful choice.
Following her close defeat and refusal to concede in the 2018 Georgia gubernatorial race, Stacy Abrams has continuously asserted that she would leave her options open for a political future. Considered by many in the Democratic Party to be a rising star, Abrams has not ruled out being any of the candidates' running mates, though she also said, "you don't run for second place," when asked about a potential spot as vice president last summer. Abrams also has the advantage of an almost certain endorsement for veep from South Carolina Rep. Jim Clyburn, an influential member of the Black Caucus who is credited in large part for turning around the dwindling momentum of the Biden campaign with his endorsement. "I'll never tell you who I'm going to advise him," Clyburn said in the interview, "but I would advise him that we need to have a woman on the ticket, and I prefer an African American woman."
Certainly, Senator Kamala Harris offers a tremendous amount of experience with the law and could add a worthy amount of influence in the role of vice president. But her history with Biden during the campaign seems to pose an immediate problem. Harris made waves and saw the only surge her short-lived bid for the White House would see when she challenged Biden on his past opposition to mandated busing. "You also worked with [segregationist senators] to oppose busing," Harris said during an early Democratic debate. "And there was a little girl in California who was part of the second class to integrate her public schools and she was bused to school every day. And that little girl was me." Harris also has a reputation for being a shrewd prosecutor, often seeking maximum penalties for what many believe to be low-level offenses. As Biden struggles with Democratic voters to shake his past support of tough-on-crime policies, Harris could prove a heavy burden as a running mate.
As Biden moves toward the eventual nomination, it's vital to his success that he looks into the future of how he will be perceived. He is uniquely challenged in the center that many see him as too liberal while the burgeoning socialist youth of the nation see him as too conservative. With decades of experience in the Senate and eight years as vice president, Biden's records remain a looming hindrance to his appeal. As he would be the oldest president ever by eight years and questions about his mental acuity persist, his vice presidential choice is the most important one that will ever be made.