Former Vice President Joe Biden is making a play for Sen. Kamala Harris’ (D-CA), suggesting Wednesday that he would consider the California legislator as a running mate if he snags the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.
Harris dropped out of contention for the Democratic party’s nomination on Tuesday citing a dwindling bank account, though experts suspected Harris was also deeply considering polls, which showed her well behind in the race to challenge President Donald Trump both nationally and in key early primary states. Since then, Democratic contenders have been scrambling to pick up Harris’ base of support, some pressing the need for “diversity” on the debate stage and others adopting Harris’ key policy proposals.
Biden opted to simply adopt Harris, despite the pair’s complicated history.
“Of course I would,” Biden said when asked if he might pick Harris to run with him in 2020, per CNN. “Look, Sen. Harris has the capacity to be anything she wants to be. I mean it sincerely. I talked to her yesterday. She’s solid, she can be president someday herself, she can be vice president, she could go on to be a Supreme Court justice, she could be attorney general. I mean she has enormous capability.”
The “Supreme Court Justice” segment of that quote might be the most terrifying considering Harris’ record as a strict “law-and-order” attorney general in California, but its Biden’s suggestion that Harris could be on the ticket that has campaign watchers reeling.
Harris was Biden’s first foil among the Democratic candidates, confronting the former vice president on his history of opposing forced integration of urban schools and his close relationships with segregationalist legislators, as CNN points out. The resulting argument, which happened during a town hall event early in the summer, gave Harris a temporary boost into the double digits — her highest placement among the 2020 candidates.
Harris’ sudden popularity, though, was short-lived. She failed to capitalize on the incident and other candidates for the Democratic nomination quickly adopted some of Harris’ progressive policy ideas — including a “Medicare for All” public health care plan — and did them better. Harris was then left with a campaign that never quite pushed its way out of the doldrums.
Biden could, of course, benefit from Harris on the ticket. Progressives are looking for an alternative to the more “moderate” former Obama veep, and she fulfills the need for a “diverse” ticket — something fellow potential nominees like Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) have been complaining about in recent days.
Biden also stands to benefit from Harris’ departure. Democratic strategiests, interviewed by Fox News, cited Biden as the top choice among African-American voters, many of whom will now be politically homeless after supporting Harris. With Harris gone, Biden can consolidate support among minority voters, increasing his margin of victory in places like South Carolina and Nevada, giving him a commanding lead in places he’s already expected to win.
Booker could also benefit, according to Fox strategists. His campaign to chastize Democratic leadership and primary voters for driving out a minority female has elevated his profile significantly, giving him the opportunity to make headway in early primary states — something he’s struggled to do since declaring his candidacy.