On Monday, July 21, 2020, presumptive Democratic US presidential nominee Joe Biden said that he is vetting four Black Women as candidates from whom he will choose his running mate. Although he told MSNBC's Joy Reid on "The ReidOut" that " I am not committed to naming any, but the people I've named, and among them there are four Black women," there are major pressures on him to name a Black Woman as his VP.
He said that he is still going through the vetting process to narrow down the list, before he has " personal discussions with each of the candidates who are left and make a decision,"
A Woman as VP running mate
Joe Biden had pledged to name a woman as his running mate. Meanwhile, the events over the past few months, including the killing of George Floyd in Minnesota, Breonna Taylor in Kentucky, Rayshard Brooks in Atlanta and others followed by protests against systemic racism in the US and police brutality around the country, have fueled the momentum for Joe Biden to pick a Black woman.
He has promised to unveil the name of his vice presidential pick in August 2020, before the Democratic National Convention, planned for August 17-20, 2020.
Among the women mentioned so far are:
- Former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Yvonne Abrams,
- Wisconsin Senator Tammy Baldwin,
- Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms,
- Rep. Karen Bass of California,
- Illinois Senator Tammy Duckworth,
- Rep. Val Demings of Florida,
- New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham ,
- Senator Kamala Harris of California,
- Former First Lady Michelle Obama,
- Rhode Island governor Gina Raimondo,
- Former Obama administration national security adviser Susan Rice,
- Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachussets,
- Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer.
The question is: will the woman selected be Black?
Among the top candidates are 6 Black women: Rep. Karen Bass, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, Rep. Val Demings, Sen. Kamala Harris, Former First Lady Michelle Obama and Susan Rice.
Many voices have supported Michelle Obama. But this may not be an option, since Michelle has mentioned in the past and in her recent NetFlix documentary "Becoming" that she does not have political ambitions
Some Black Women candidates have a heavy weight that would need to be overcome during the campaign in case they are selected.
One top contender with such a heavy weight is Susan Rice. Although Susan Rice is among the top women to be considered based on her experience, her association with Hillary Clinton and approaches to African policies may be a downside. In fact, Susan Rice's controversial policies and actions on Africa and dealings with African dictators have been the center of several polical debates in the US Congress and topics in media.
Susan Rice has often been accused of supporting and being too easy on the Rwandan dictator General Paul Kagame. Her supporters have defended her, arguing that although she was easy on Paul Kagame in public, she was far tougher on him in private.
Susan Rice has also widely been criticised for her dealings with the situations in Libya and South Soudan. In her recent book, she mentionned that she prioritized US national interests but admits some mistakes in formulating and executing African policies.
Will Susan Rice be able to overcome these shortcomings? If not, that leaves four Black Women among the top candidates : Stacy Abrams, Keisha Lance Bottoms, Kamala Harris, and Val Demings.
Stacey Yvonne Abrams is well known for her unrelenting fight for voting rights.
Stacey Yvonne Abrams is AfroAmerica Network Black Woman of 2018 (see here: Stacey Yvonne Abrams: AfroAmerica Network Woman of Year 2018)
In a recent visit to Atlanta, Georgia by President Donald Trump, Joe Biden made a statement as an opposing candidate for US Presidential elections. However, Stacy Abrams was the one to issue a Democratic response to President Trump's speech, highlighting the responsibilities of the administration in the aggravated toll of the COVID-19 pandemic, including the job losses, on the African-American and Latino communities.
Stacey Abrams said:
“The coronavirus has disproportionately impacted the African-American community from contraction to death, and we’re not alone,” Abrams said. “Latino populations in north and south Georgia are seeing disproportionate rates of infection due to his cold-hearted determination to send people back to work before they had the resources they needed.”
This led people to wonder whether she is already the chosen running mate.
Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms has risen to the top following killings of Black Men by police and recent protests.
Her speech touched hearts, when she said: " Above everything else, I am a mother. I am a mother to four black children in America, one of whom is 18 years old. And when I saw the murder of George Floyd, I hurt like a mother would hurt.
"And…yesterday, when I heard there were rumors about violent protests in Atlanta, I did what a mother would do. I called my son, and I said, 'Where are you?' I said, 'I cannot protect you. A black boy shouldn't be out today.'
"So you're not going to out-concern me, or out-care about where we are in America. I wear this each and every day, and I pray over my children each and every day. So what I see happening on the streets of Atlanta, is not Atlanta.
"This is not a protest. This is not in the spirit of Martin Luther King Jr. This is chaos. A protest has purpose. When Dr. King was assassinated, we didn't do this to our city. So if you love this city, this city that has had a legacy of black mayors and black police chiefs and people who care about this city, where more than 50% of the business owners in metro Atlanta are minority business owners – if you care about this city, then go home."
Kamala Harris' Experience: a Plus and a Minus.
Kamala Harris has a vast experience, as an attorney-general and a Senator, with both a national and local profile and a wide campaign experience. However, she has a key issue to deal with: she has faced strong criticisms for her law enforcement techniques, sending people to jail for marijuana violations and not challenging the death penalty in the past as attorney-general. Critics said that Kamala Harris defended California’s cruel three-strikes law, the only one in the country which imposed life sentences for a third "strike" that was a minor felony and opposed Proposition 66, a ballot initiative aimed at reforming the harsh three-strikes law.
Based on this, the question remains on who among the Black Woman contenders has more chances of making it to the to the top.