So much for Amy Klobuchar.
Joe Biden’s team is reportedly vetting the popular Minnesota senator to be his running mate. Klobuchar’s standing in her own critical toss-up state and her political compatibility with Biden make her an excellent pick. But, but her chances have suddenly plummeted.
Her problem: she isn’t black.
A recent op-ed in the Washington Post authored by seven female black activists demanded Biden choose an African-American woman as running mate. They wrote, “we resurrected Joe Biden’s campaign,” and “We are here to collect.”
In the wake of Biden’s offensive claim to radio host Charlamagne tha God that, “if you have a problem figuring out whether you’re for me or Trump, then you ain’t black,” those voices will get even louder.
Even Charles Blow, the New York Times’ famously Trump-hating columnist, rebukes Joe for the “cavalier” remark, and also acknowledges that Biden has often misrepresented “his relationship with the black community.” Biden, wrote Blow after the latest goof, “repeatedly lied… about marching in the civil rights movement … that he was arrested in South Africa trying to see the imprisoned apartheid leader Nelson Mandela” and so on.
The presumptive Democrat candidate has to repair the damage done with the black community, but that isn’t the only challenge for his running mate. Because of Uncle Joe’s inability to survive most interviews without doing himself injury (See: Charlamagne tha God), Democrats’ prospects will rely to an unprecedented degree on his VP pick.
It’s a tall order, and even more so since many people don’t expect Biden to make it through an entire four years. Many will look at the VP candidate as our likely next president, should Democrats win. That raises the bar and, of course, is catnip to those hoping to run with Biden.
Indeed, the prospect of possibly becoming the first female president of the United States has attracted a veritable stampede of contenders. Some 35 women have been mentioned as in the mix, which makes the recently concluded Democratic primary, with its 27 contestants, look tame by comparison.
Until the Charlamagne da God episode, the leading VP propsects were Klobuchar, Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris, former Georgia state Rep. Stacey Abrams, and Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.
But Biden’s most recent flub will push him to choose a black partner. That narrows the field to Harris, Abrams and Val Demings.
Demings is a second-term congresswoman from must-win Florida. She is a former cop who served as chief of the Orlando Police Department. Demings actually is what Biden sometimes has pretended to be, the first in her family to go to college. Her husband is also a police officer, and currently serves as mayor of Orange County.
Traditionally, Democrats have looked to deflect “soft on crime” characterizations from Republicans, and from that aspect Demings would be a sound choice. But these days, liberals routinely categorize law enforcement as racist. Since Biden has had to apologize for his authorship of the 1994 “tough on crime” bill, teaming up with a cop could revive past misgivings.
Biden has boxed himself in. To have any chance in November, he has to hold onto the black vote.
Demings, however, won plaudits from liberal Democrats by serving as an aggressive impeachment manager during the Senate trial of President Trump.
Abrams chairs the Sore Loser Club, of which Hillary Clinton is the charter member. Abrams ran for governor of Georgia in 2018 and lost by 55,000 votes; she still refuses to concede. The ambitious former state legislator (she has predicted she will be elected president by 2040) has made a career out of charging “voter suppression,” which her Democrat colleagues have dutifully echoed.
There is no indication that Republicans prevented blacks in Georgia from voting; indeed, turnout was the highest ever, including among the African-American community.
But Abrams has used these allegations as a rallying cry, and the left-wing media adores her. This clique is pushing her for the VP slot, writing fawning articles that breeze over her credentials or policies and instead glorify her as a “runway super model” and super hero.
Choosing Abrams would excite progressives but could alienate some of those blue-collar workers who are critical to Biden’s Electoral College prospects.
Harris competed with Biden during the primaries and famously attacked him during the first debate. She criticized the former VP for having worked with segregationist colleagues in the past and for having opposed busing. It was a shocking onslaught, given Biden’s close ties to Barack Obama, the nation’s first black president.
Harris’ presidential campaign never caught fire. Her organization was weak, as was her message, which devolved to slogans like, “Dude Gotta Go.” Also, Harris came under scrutiny for her past work as a district attorney and then attorney general in California.
In the second round of debates, Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard charged Harris with putting “over 1,500 people in jail for marijuana violations and then laughed about it when she was asked if she ever smoked marijuana.”
Like Demings, Harris’ main credential for the job – her law and order past – is a mixed blessing.
Each of these candidates will boost Biden’s appeal to minority voters, but each risks losing some other critical Democrat constituents, like progressives or moderates. None has the standing or approval ratings of Warren, who is Democrats’ top pick, and none fits as well with Uncle Joe as Klobuchar.
Nonetheless, Biden has boxed himself in. To have any chance in November, he has to hold onto the black vote.
Unlike past Republican candidates, Trump is campaigning aggressively for that vote, reminding African-Americans that he delivered on criminal justice reform, has put considerable money and effort into Opportunity Zones in minority neighborhoods and has supported Historically Black Colleges and Universities.
Polls show he has gained with blacks; Biden cannot afford to see those numbers climb. The race in the essential toss up states is close; as Charles Blow wrote, “Biden has a good chance to beat Trump … if Biden doesn’t blow it.” What are the odds?