Let the veepstakes begin.
With Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders bowing out of the race for the Democratic presidential nomination on Wednesday, attention is now turning to who former Vice President Joe Biden will tap to join him on the ticket in the general election.
Biden already pledged last month to pick a female running mate, which gives him a plethora of options to choose from — including a number of former rivals for the Democratic nomination, as well as some rising stars in the party.
On Wednesday during a virtual fundraiser, Biden acknowledged reaching out to former President Barack Obama for advice, saying in the “coming weeks” his team is going to “start looking at candidates.” He said he would be “looking for someone who will be a partner in this progress.”
“I’m going to need a woman vice president who has the capacity, has strengths where I have weaknesses,” Biden said.
Sources within the Democratic Party say that Biden’s team has a list of nine potential running mates they are considering, with the two top contenders for the nod being Sens. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Kamala Harris of California.
Both Klobuchar and Harris were once in the running for the 2020 Democratic nomination, but quickly threw their support behind Biden when they exited the race.
Klobuchar has been widely thought of as a potential running mate since she suspended her campaign shortly before the Minnesota primary in her home state on Super Tuesday and come out in support of Biden. Her endorsement is credited with helping the former vice president handily win the state.
Her centrist views and appeal among independents and even disaffected Republicans are also highlights for the Biden camp looking to beat Trump in the Midwest — an area that Trump dominated in 2016 and one Democrats are hoping to reclaim come November.
Harris also satisfies a number of Democratic checkmarks when it comes to a VP pick. Besides being a woman, she is also a person of color and has experience in Washington, as well as years as a top prosecutor, first as San Francisco district attorney and later as California attorney general.
While she had it out with Biden during a debate last summer over the former vice president’s past statements on working with segregationists and busing, the two have since made amends and Harris has earned high praise from Biden who said that “of course” he would consider choosing her as a running mate.
“Senator Harris has the capacity to be anything she wants to be. I mean it sincerely,” the former vice president told reporters at the time. “She is solid. She can be president someday herself. She can be the vice president. She can go on to be a Supreme Court justice. She can be an attorney general. I mean, she has enormous capability.”
Another name being batted around as a potential VP candidate is Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.
Warren, who was once considered a front-runner for the Democratic nomination before falling in the polls, could bring in the growing progressive wing of the Democratic Party that rallied around her and Sanders’ White House bids.
While Warren has so far not given an endorsement, and she and Biden were often on the opposite ends of policy fights and tangled often on the debate stage, the two seem to be coming to some sort of ideological meeting. Biden recently embraced the senator’s signature proposal to reform bankruptcy rules — bringing to an end a decade-and-a-half-old feud between the two Democrats — and on Wednesday hinted that he’s looking for a running mate “who will be a partner in this progress.”
Of the up-and-coming stars of the Democratic Party who Biden could choose, arguably no one is getting more national media attention right now than Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.
Even before the coronavirus pandemic began to ravage the U.S., Whitmer was viewed as a party favorite and was tapped to give the Democratic response to Trump’s State of the Union address in February.
Michigan has been one of the state that is hardest hit by COVID-19 and her response to the crisis — paired with her, at times, confrontational relationship with Trump — has only helped her stature rise in the eyes of many Democrats.
As a frequent guest in recent weeks on the cable news networks and other national TV appearances, Whitmer joined other governors in repeatedly criticizing the federal government’s response to the crisis and its assistance to the states.
Trump had fired back, calling the governor “Gretchen ‘Half’ Whitmer” in a tweet and saying that she was “way over her head’ and “doesn’t have a clue” on how to combat the pandemic. At a recent White House briefing, Trump said that he had told Vice President Pence — who is steering the administration’s pandemic response — not to call “the woman in Michigan.”
Besides Whitmer’s rising profile, she also is the governor of a state that Trump won in 2016 and one that Democrats desperately want to take back. Michigan — with its large percentage of union members and working-class Americans — had for years been a Democratic stronghold until Trump came along, and Democrats are focusing a lot of their effort in winning back the state, as well as other Rust Belt areas.
Another name on the list is Stacey Abrams, who was early rumored to be a potential running mate to Biden.
The former Democratic leader in the Georgia state House lost her campaign for governor in the state in 2018 by an extremely narrow margin amid claims from liberals that voter suppression efforts contributed to her loss.
Supporters of Abrams, 46, say she could help Biden possibly put the red state of Georgia in play — and make the state’s two Senate races much more competitive. But critics point to her lack of government experience and exposure on the national stage.
Along with these more prominent potential picks, Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada and New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan have also been floated as potential running mates.
And last November, Biden mentioned some names as potential running mates, including Sens. Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire, as well as Sally Yates, who served as deputy attorney general under President Barack Obama.
Fox News Paul Steinhauser and Allie Raffa contributed to this report, as well as and Fox Business’ Charles Gasparino.