Joe Biden nears final decision on running mate

Top contenders reportedly making their case

Presumptive Democratic White House nominee Joe Biden is expected to announce his much-speculated decision on who his running mate will be in the coming days.

According to anonymous sources quoted by The Associated Press, a public announcement likely won’t happen before the week of Aug. 10, one week before Democrats hold a considerably scaled-back national convention in Milwaukee.

Biden said in May that he hoped to name his pick around Aug. 1 and told reporters this week he would “have a choice in the first week of August.” He stopped short of saying when he would announce that choice.

Leading contenders continue to be rumored as California Sen. Kamala Harris, California Rep. Karen Bass and Obama national security adviser Susan Rice. Representatives for Biden declined to comment, but the former vice president has committed to choosing a woman as his running mate. Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and Sen. Elizabeth Warren continue to be rumored as being in the mix, as does Sen. Tammy Duckworth, a decorated combat veteran from Illinois.

A picture captured by an Associated Press photographer last week suggested Biden had already chosen Harris. As he took questions from reporters last Tuesday, Biden held notes featuring Harris’ name scrawled across the top, followed by five talking points: “Do not hold grudges.” “Campaigned with me & Jill.” “Talented.” “Great help to campaign.” “Great respect for her.”

On Friday, more than 60 Black clergy leaders called on Biden in an open letter to pick a Black woman as his running mate, saying the U.S. is facing a “moment of racial reckoning” that cannot be ignored.

“Too much is at stake for our community and we believe having a Black woman vice presidential candidate is the clearest path to the victory in November that our country needs to move forward,” said the Rev. Matthew Watley of Kingdom Fellowship AME Church in Silver Spring, Maryland, who signed the letter.

Harris’ allies mobilized this week after Politico reported that the co-chair of the vetting committee, former Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd, was concerned about Harris’ tough debate stage performance and that she hasn’t expressed regret.

Several California elected officials and labor leaders initiated a call with the vetting team to emphasize that Harris has strong support among labor and political leaders in her home state. The call was organized by Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis.

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On Saturday, Harris said anyone who tries to shatter a glass ceiling faces naysayers. “Breaking barriers involves breaking things. And sometimes you get cut,” Harris told attendees of an online convention held by the Ohio Democratic Party. “Sometimes it hurts, but it is worth it.”

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Bass, a late addition to Biden’s list, has recently emerged as a top contender as she’s made her case as a team player who won’t outshine Biden. Bass has also received the backing of House Democrats, who have praised her work on police reform and her ability to work with Republicans.

On Thursday night, Bass joined Biden for a virtual fundraiser that raked in $2.2 million. But she’s facing growing scrutiny about past remarks. A video surfaced of a 2010 speech in which she praised Scientology during an opening ceremony for a church facility in Los Angeles.

On Saturday, Bass tweeted a statement she attends First New Christian Fellowship Baptist Church in South Los Angeles.

Bass also is facing criticism about a 2016 statement in which she said the death of former Cuban dictator Fidel Castro was “a great loss to the people of Cuba.”

“If, God forbid, Joe Biden is elected president and Congresswoman Bass becomes vice president, she’ll be the highest-ranking Castro sympathizer in the history of the United States government,” Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida said Saturday.

It's Trump vs. Biden this November

Florida is a key swing state. President Donald Trump visited the state on Friday for a roundtable with its elected leaders to discuss efforts against the coronavirus and preparedness for Hurricane Isaias.

The state has a large Latino population, including many older Cuban immigrants thought to be hostile to U.S. outreach to Cuba, which remains “an evil Marxist regime,” according to Rubio, whose parents left Cuba in 1956.

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Biden, Barack Obama’s vice president for eight years, has spoken at length about the qualities he is looking for in a running mate. He has said he wants to ensure the person is “simpatico” with his values. He has also said he is focused on selecting someone who is ready to lead immediately.

There is widespread speculation Biden would only serve one term if elected. In that case, his running mate would start as an early front-runner for the Democratic nomination. Some Democrats want him to then pick a vice president with no interest in the Oval Office so she won’t run for president during his term.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.