This is the fourth election cycle where I have written columns, and it is time for my vice-presidential picks.
The key is not to focus on the candidates, but what the top of the ticket needs. Once you have that determined, you have a good idea of who should be the VP pick.
In 2008, I stated that Obama would pick someone with a long legislative record and foreign policy experience, while I predicted McCain would pick a woman for gender balance, not experience. I was thinking of Lisa Murkowski, but the Alaska GOP posted their article on their site to promote Sarah Palin. Paul Ryan was my second pick behind Rob Portman for Mitt Romney in 2012 (not bad) based upon what the GOP nominee needed. I suggested that Trump get a confidant with executive experience (well, he got one of the two factors), while Clinton needed a candidate from a swing state (though I had a different Senator in mind) in 2016.
Joe Biden doesn’t need someone with a long legislative resume, or foreign policy experience. He has Executive Branch experience as well. So what does the Democratic nominee need?
Biden needs someone who could step in, and have at least (1) executive branch experience. Serving in the legislature (2) wouldn’t hurt, as he would have to work with Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill. Gender balance would help (and Biden has indicated he would pick a woman) and racial balance (3) would be even better. Having enough of a progressive streak (4) would contrast with Biden’s moderate record. Coming from a swing state (5) could help the team. Most importantly, the VP candidate can’t be a novice candidate. She has to have been vetted, not just by Team Biden, but by the media. Having a run for a statewide election (5) would be great, but a presidential election candidate (6) would be even better.
Based on these factors, it’s clear that Kamala Harris is the ideal pick. She’s a got six out of seven on all factors, lacking only the swing state location (she’s served as California’s Attorney General, giving her executive branch experience), far ahead of other candidates. And for those who say she’s not a progressive, well, her ACU scores are more liberal than Elizabeth Warren. All of these put her ahead of Gretchen Whitmer, Val Demings, Tammy Duckworth, Stacey Abrams, Susan Rice, Elizabeth Warren, Michelle Lujan Grisham, Catherine Cortez Masto, Amy Klobuchar, and Karen Bass.
As for Trump, he’s got to decide between keeping Mike Pence, or going with Nikki Haley. Haley’s experience as South Carolina Governor and the U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. This puts her ahead of many would-be contenders, even Pence, who adds little to the ticket. I was just joking on April 1, 2019 in a column when I said Haley would replace Pence, who is in charge of the struggling Coronavirus Task Force, an anemic response which has helped contribute to Trump’s poor standing in the polls.
But the last Republican ad I saw looked like Pence was running, with Trump acting as a supporting character, signing a trade deal while Vice-President narrated, so maybe that’s not going to happen. When I went to interview Haley at Kelly Loeffler’s campaign rally, almost every question was about her taking on the VP spot, or running in 2024 (my question was about COVID-19), so the media will keep hyping this up to the convention, and beyond.
Maybe the nominees won’t take these candidates. But if so, they should, as the represent was each nominee needs, not what they might want.