A One-Term Biden Needs an Already Presidential Running Mate

FILE PHOTO: Former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden is seen during the annual Munich Security Conference in Munich, Germany February 16, 2019. REUTERS/Andreas Gebert

Most friends and family would say I’m a very progressive Democrat. I call myself a “Warren Democrat.” I want my party and my country to swing further left and think it’s time we even the insanely rigged economic playing field in favor of main street over the largest corporations. I don’t believe there should be billionaires. But I’m also a Party loyalist, and so I go forward this fall to fill out my absentee ballot for Joe Biden and will try to keep my criticisms of his (incredible load of baggage) to a minimum.

Assuming “Uncle Joe” is successful – and sadly, even with a clearly failed, divisive, criminal and insane president before us, that is no guarantee – most people need to accept one very real fact: Joe Biden will and must be a one-term President. Why “must” he?  Let’s look at the obvious facts that most of us admit to one another in private. Joe has aged tremendously in the last four years, is clearly worn down by grief, and just doesn’t have the sharpness and steadiness we need to ensure comfort with his taking a presidency into his late 80s. It goes beyond gaffes. He doesn’t even complete full thoughts with the kind of policy detail or gravitas that he once may have had. And why he “will” be a one term president is because it will be too noticeable while he is in office, and because I think he and Jill know these truths themselves. Remember, he was never supposed to run for president. He was just supposed to be a retiree who might have occasionally been called on by President Hillary Clinton for a diplomatic mission or special assignment. He ran out of a sense of duty to right the ship and at least get us back to America on 1/19/2017. I am encouraged by his seemingly willingness to follow his Party’s activists further left, as the Party is turning left whether moderates like it or not. So perhaps he’ll be able to mark up some impressive progressive accomplishments if he wins majorities in both houses. But again, I encourage you to accept my premise that he’s a one-termer for sure (Whether he should RUN stating this intention is for another time and is I’m sure being debated among seasoned political professionals working with him.)

With the assumption comfortably in hand, and coupled with my guess that the thought probably will be raised as a campaign issue by the media, the thrust of my piece is this – Because Biden will serve only 4 years, and because many voters will assume so whether he pledges a single term or not, it is incumbent (pun intended) upon him to select a running mate who voters could see as assuming the Presidency from day one, be the standard bearer in 2024, and hopefully the first female President on 1/20/2025.  The following is a list of pluses and minuses for a list of women that are most often being mentioned for the job. Some will get more of a write-up than others, and I am not here to tell you WHO Biden should pick. But there are some solid options, and plenty of things to consider with each.

This Woman is Awesome, America!

Fmr. Georgia Democratic House Leader and 2018 Gubernatorial Nominee Stacey Abrams – Those of us who follow Democratic politics actively are in love with Stacey Abrams and for good reason. The Yale Law School Grad was a kick-ass leader for the Democratic Caucus in the Georgia House, came just voter suppression away from being the truly elected Governor of Georgia, now runs an organization dedicated to overcoming and stopping voter suppression and registering more people to vote, and is one of the most articulate and well-versed policy explainers I’ve personally ever heard. She will galvanize the African American vote, and some believe put Georgia in play. I am NOT one of those people who believes Georgia is there yet, particularly given Gov. Brian Kemp’s continued determination to keep black and brown Georgian’s (or Democratic areas in general) from voting. The other knock is that she really is not well known to average voters. Average voters don’t read this Website but trust me – ask your votes-only-every-so-often aunt and uncle who Stacey Abrams is… 75-80% won’t know. For too many, I fear she’ll just be seen as a failed Gubernatorial candidate who was “only” a State Legislator. They would be wrong, but is there really enough time between August – November to fully publicize the heck out of her incredible bonafides?  Maybe. I’m just not as sure as others. Of course, one could ask the same question of several of the women to follow.

Do I think she could be a great president on Day 1?  Yes. Do I think America will think so? Unsure. Again, I just hope there is enough time for her excellent profile to shine through.

Packer Fan

Sen. Tammy Baldwin (WI) – The 2nd term Wisconsin Senator was re-elected in 2018 and is well regarded and politically as civil as “midwestern nice” could seem. She is from an important swing state, and balances Biden in terms of progressive votes like upholding the Glass-Steagall Act and leading the charge on student loan forgiveness. She’s the first openly gay U.S. Senator, which could increase the energy of some already fairly energized voters, and it wouldn’t hurt Biden as anyone who would vote against the ticket for such hateful reasons isn’t likely to vote for Biden anyway.

Do I think she could serve as president on Day 1? Yes. Do I think America will think so? Enough of them, yes.

Do You Know This Woman?

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms – I literally know nothing about her and had never heard of her. She’s the fairly young African-American mayor of one of the nation’s largest cities, so has executive experience. But while Biden is sure to win Atlanta, I doubt her selection put Georgia anywhere close to being in play, unless of course she’s also popular in the Atlanta suburbs?

Do I think she could serve as president on Day 1? ….?  Do I think America will think so? ….?

Not Kilmer. The Other Val.

Rep. Val Demings (FL/Orlando) – The Impeachment Manager was a former Orlando Police Chief, solid on the issues, and seems unflappable. She could help solidify I-4 corridor votes in Florida and help put it in play. She is also likely to help invigorate African-American voters and shield Biden of his crime policy missteps that hurt the African-American community. Still, like Abrams, she isn’t widely known outside of those who religiously watched Impeachment coverage. Will a few months on the trail give Americans enough of a feel for her?

Do I think she could serve as president on Day 1? Yes. Do I think America will think so? Yes.

Could Literally Fly Marine One

Sen. Tammy Duckworth (IL) – Disabled American Veteran with distinguished service as a helicopter pilot, the Representative-turned Senator first won praise for making “the disgusting, but oh wait – do we like him now(?) Joe Walsh” a one-term Congressman. Since she’s been in the Senate, she’s been a fairly down the line liberal Democrat. She will inspire veterans, the API community, and the disability community. Though having a Midwesterner would help, we’re already going to win Illinois, and I think we’re already on track as a Party to increase and solidify the Asian-American vote.

Do I think she could serve as president on Day 1?  Yes. Do I think America will think so?  I honestly don’t know after Trump spends a considerable amount of time (I’m guessing) telling Americans she’s “incompetent” for losing both legs in combat.

Lujans: Huge in N.M. But America?

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (NM) – Pluses: Latinx Governor. But we’re already going to win New Mexico, she is only in her second year on the job, and she’s not Castro-brother level Latinx political celebrity enough to bring out masses of voters in my estimation. I admit I know nothing of her level of charisma or policy chops. Repeat my comments above for the lesser known choices.

Do I think she could serve as President on Day 1? No. Do I think America will think so? Because she’s a governor… maybe.  

Makes Jeff Sessions Nervous

Sen. Kamala Harris (CA) – Young-ish. Ass-kicker. Great charisma and fantastic on policy. Would excite the African-American AND Indian-American vote. MY Senator. So what’s the problem?  She doesn’t fully balance Biden on criminal justice baggage as she has semi-controversial record of her own as a somewhat progressive (by comparison) California AG. Her selection also allows the Trump camp to make the campaign a war on California (expect commercials filled with tent cities), which is certain to motivate not only his base, but other red and purple state voters with jealous resentments about the Golden State. But she would be GREAT on the stump and would eviscerate Pence IF there are even debates. Finally, we can’t let the first Indian-American Vice President or President be that damn Nikki Haley, can we? Make it Kamala!!

Do I think she could serve as president on Day 1? Yes. Do I think America will think so? Yes

Lasik? Or Contacts?

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (MN) – I’m not sure if you’ve heard, but Sen. Klobuchar thinks she could help solidify the Midwestern vote. And I have no doubt she would help. What she won’t motivate is the progressive base, which Biden is going to need not only voting, but going door-to-door and phone banking to help make up for Trump’s HUGE money advantage. She’s done a decent job maintaining her profile, in no small part due to the sad fact that her husband suffered from COVID-19. Her work ethic is almost intimidating it’s so impressive, so you know she would work incredibly hard for the ticket. And she really wants to be president, and probably knows as I have stated that she would be the standard bearer in 2024. She is therefore no doubt campaigning hard for the job.

Do I think she could serve as president on Day 1? Yes. Do I think America will think so? Yes

Craps or Blackjack?

Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (NV) – Without this photo, I couldn’t pick her out of a lineup. That said, she’s a former state AG like Sen. Harris, and a Western state Latinx, which could be very helpful in TX, AZ, and CO (which we should win anyway). But I think we already win Nevada, and again, Like Gov. Lujan Grisham, is not a Castro brother-esque motivator of the Latino base in my view.

Do I think she could serve as president on Day 1? Yes. Do I think America will think so?  No clue. Again, lesser known.

The person who should actually be President

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (MA) – The obvious choice among white women. She’s a progressive and gives Biden cover for his economic/domestic policy sins. She’s 70 going on 45, great on the stump and will outwork just about anybody (other than Klobuchar). She was my personal vote for President on March 3rd and I would LOVE to see her as the standard bearer in 2024. She doesn’t excite young people (which we haven’t talked enough about) the same way Bernie does, and she turns off independent voters that have been conditioned by Fox News and the Republican party to resent intelligence (especially in women), which isn’t aided by her penchant at times for coming off as a scolding professor. But this is an administration that deserves nothing but scolding, and on policy nobody has a better plans for taking Trump down. A new poll shows she’s the best candidate to bring in Bernie voters (at least the reasonable ones). The one knock has been that Massachusetts has a Republican Governor, but apparently the state legislature can force him to hold a special election to replace her. Let’s just hope that doesn’t deliver another Scott Brown.

Do I think she could serve as president on Day 1? Yes. Do I think America will think so?  Yes.

Currently Found Kicking COVID’s Ass

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (MI) – As stated earlier, I’m not really one for half-term governors. Then again, I love Stacey Abrams as a VP pick and she didn’t even win her race in 2018. But like Abrams in Georgia, Whitmer has been around Michigan politics for a long time and has gained great notoriety and acclaim for her handling of the COVID-19 crisis there. Michigan will be key to victory in November and locking it up as well as having a Midwesterner on the ticket with some executive experience could be incredibly valuable.

Do I think she could serve as president on Day 1? Thanks to COVID management, yes. Do I think America will think so?  Yes.

So there it is. I would love to see some comments below on who you think Biden should pick and why, or anything that rebuts anything I have said. I will also always welcome praise. As always, thanks for reading! 

13 Comments

  1. I mostly have questions. Is Abrams left or right of Warren? I really don’t know and I am curious because left of Warren won’t help. Will any of these candidates truly be able to bring in Bernie voters? Because I don’t believe any of them can, not even Warren. Is it more important to get black voter turnout or turn some Trump votes to Biden votes? I honestly hear both and not sure there is a woman who could do both.

    • Christina, sorry for my delay. My system for some reason didn’t let me know I had comments waiting. Abrams is probably about where Warren is although may be a bit more of a “Party” person and practical. But her focus is on the disenfranchised and black and brown folks, who I agree would be much more motivated by her than Warren. The REASONABLE Bernie people would like either of the 2, but there are so many unreasonable Bernie cultists that can just never be reached. I agree with you putting together the Obama coalition is more important. We don’t need Trump voters. We need “voted for Obama, then voted for Trump” voters. Getting them back, plus the diverse coalition is the key to victory. African American vote in Michigan was terrible in 2016. It didn’t help that Obama punted on Flint water.

  2. Great stuff, Todd. I guess I’m curious about one of your premises: How much does it really matter whether America will think that the various VP possibilities are qualified to be POTUS on Day 1? I mean, we did end up with a certain S. Palin on a national ticket not that long ago.

    • Which logic, Dan? The mental sharpness? If so — I don’t think he’s unable to be an effective 1-termer. He just isn’t close to the Joe Biden of old.

  3. Stacey Abrams is fantastic by any measure. And, she’s openly lobbying for the job – a mistake in my book. No candidate, Biden included, wants their hand forced. It needs to be organic.

    I would love Warren as well. But now that the Senate is in reach for Dems, it’s not worth rolling the dice on having her cede her seat to a GOP replacement. In Yahtzee! terms (been playing lots of Yahtzee! lately), it’s the equivalent banking on rolling a large straight on the 1st roll. Not a risk I’m willing to stomach. I’m getting nauseous just thinking about it. (Not nauseous about rolling a large straight – nauseous having Warren give up her Senate seat!)

    Make no mistake, a VP selection is important. But a VP candidate doesn’t necessarily “bring” a state along with them; sometimes, even a Presidential candidate (see: Al Gore) doesn’t bring a state along with them. It’s a quick pop, then the electorate focuses on the very, very top of the ticket.

    With those parameters, my unsolicited opinion on the best choices for Joe Biden to make are Masto and Grisham. But the scenario you pose, Tood, is serious: will Biden be a one-termer? As for me, I won’t go there, because I’m a firm believer that those who try to look into a crystal ball wind up getting cut by shattered glass.*

    [*except for Todd Flora, who is awesome and would be unscathed]

    That said, if Biden is a one-termer, and I certainly hope not, I’d gladly have any of the above persons move into public housing on Pennsylvania Ave. instead of a President who thinks a bleach cocktail with hydroxychloroquine chaser is a fun night out.

    • DG, you magnificent man, thank you for your comments. My system didn’t let me know there were ANY comments for some reason until my friend Steve posted today. I can’t even get a job, so I doubt any crystal balls would work in my favor. But I think there will be a “normalcy” expectation of Biden and then a lot of pressure to “thank him for his service and move him along.” Face it, his mental acuity just isn’t there anymore.

      As for Warren, I don’t think she brings that much help given the Bernie people’s outright hatred of her. In fact, she might hurt (these feelings despite my own favoritism of her to be the actual president). Since I wrote the piece, I’m leaning more toward Kamala or Whitmer, but still hope Stacey Abrams gets a nice perch from which she can shine (e.g. Commerce Dept., where she would be in charge of completing a delayed Census).

      I played my first game of Yahtzee in YEARS last Thursday, and it was a disaster. I think my total score was 208. I had to scratch Yahtzee, and my Chance score was abismal, and I couldn’t roll 3 of any number, missing my 35 point bonus. It’s traumatic just thinking back to it. I must stop.

  4. Here, here, Christina. I have the same questions about Bernie voters. I think that Abrams is aligned with Warren more than being left or right of her. The difference is in their experience and in their approach. I think it more likely to not expect turning too many Trump voters and focus on bringing in the entire democratic base. But what do I know…

    • You know a lot, lady! And you are spot on, except, as I added with Christina, we need to get back the voters that voted for Obama and then for Trump.

  5. Interesting take Todd. I don’t disagree with you on the reasons why Joe Biden (assuming he wins) should be a one-termer. It just seems like the allure of power always wins out and even those politicians that probably should hang it up never know when it’s time; reminds me of those NFL QBs that hang on a few years too long. On your VP takes, some interesting profiles in there on some candidates I’m not familiar with. I personally believe it’s going to be Whitmer, state that Democrats need to win and Whitmer strikes me as a decent balance between the progressive and moderate part of the party. I’d pick Klobouchar but then again I’m a moderate (but I don’t watch Fox News so maybe I got that going for me.)

    • Steve, great to hear from you and THANK YOU FOR READING! I think Biden will get significant pressure (not the least of which will come from his VP) to hang it up after getting things back to normal. I don’t think he “Favre’s” this one. Whitmer sure seems like a great choice. I think Amy Klobuchar would make a fine president, save for 1 fatal flaw — she thinks her bipartisanship will be respected by the Republicans and will be tragically disappointed (as Obama and his ego were) when the Republicans refuse to work with her. … and thank you for NOT watching Fox News. Where exactly do you live now?

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