Joe Biden’s search for a running mate is entering a second round of vetting for a dwindling list of potential vice presidential nominees, with several black women in strong contention.
Democrats with knowledge of the process said Biden’s search committee has narrowed the choices to as few as six serious contenders after initial interviews. Among the group still in contention: Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Kamala Harris of California, as well as Susan Rice, who served as President Barack Obama’s national security adviser.
Those with knowledge declined to name other contenders and said the process remains somewhat fluid. Additional candidates may still be asked to submit to the extensive document review process now underway for some top contenders. Those familiar with Biden’s search spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to publicly discuss the process.
The campaign dismissed the idea of a shortened list as early speculation. “Those who talk don’t know and those who know don’t talk,” said Andrew Bates, a Biden spokesperson.
Biden, who has already said he will pick a woman as his running mate, is facing increased calls from Democrats to put a woman of color on the ticket — both because of the outsize role that black voters played in Biden’s road to the nomination and because of the reckoning over racism and inequality roiling the nation following the death of George Floyd.
The black Minneapolis man died after a white police officer pressed his knee on his neck for several minutes, an episode that was captured on video.
Terry McAuliffe, the former Virginia governor and former Democratic National Committee chairman, said that while Biden’s choice was likely to be “all about personal chemistry,” it would be “exciting for the party” to have a black woman on a major party presidential ticket for the first time.
The campaign’s list includes several black women, including Harris and Rice. Advisers have also looked closely at Florida Rep. Val Demings and Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, both of whom are black, and New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, a Latina.
Biden’s vetting committee had conversations with a larger group of women earlier this spring; those continuing on in the process have been asked to turn over financial records, past writings and other documentation.
Biden has had various public and private interactions with many of the women his vetting committee has considered thus far, but has not yet had any formal one-on-one interviews expressly to discuss the No. 2 spot on the ticket. Those aren’t expected for several weeks.
Rice, who worked closely with Biden during his time as vice president, has emerged as a favorite among some former Obama administration officials and is personally close to the former president.
She has never held elected office but has extensive foreign policy experience, including as US ambassador to the United Nations. She’s also been an outspoken critic of the Trump administration since leaving the White House and considered running for US Senate in Maine.