Biden associates reach out to Holder about VP search

Associates of Joe Biden have reached out to former Attorney General Eric Holder about the process of selecting a running mate, according to a person close to the former vice president’s campaign.

Holder helped guide former President Obama’s running mate-selection process in 2008, along with Caroline Kennedy and longtime Democratic operative Jim Johnson, who stepped down from that role after a week amid a controversy related to mortgages he received.

That Biden’s associates have reached out to Holder about the selection process was first reported on Thursday by The New York Times. The Times also reported that Biden had spoken with Obama about the matter.

Aides to the former vice president did not immediately respond to The Hill’s requests for comment on the discussions.

Biden is the prohibitive front-runner in the Democratic primary race, having amassed a nearly insurmountable delegate lead over his only remaining rival, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). 

Because several states have delayed their primaries due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Biden won’t be able to officially clinch the presidential nomination until June. But in the meantime, he’s begun to give serious thought to whom he will select as his eventual VP candidate.

The question of whom to tap as a running mate is a crucial one for any presidential hopeful, but especially for Biden. 

At 78 years old, there has been speculation for over a year that he could choose not to run for a second term if he wins the presidency. At the same time, he faces the task of uniting a party split along generational and ideological lines.

Biden committed last month to choosing a woman as his running mate. And he said earlier this week in an interview with MSNBC’s Brian Williams that he is considering somewhere between six and 10 potential picks, mentioning Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer as one possibility.

But a handful of others are also seen as potential choices for Biden, including at least two of his former rivals for the Democratic nomination, Sens. Kamala Harris (Calif.) and Amy Klobuchar (Minn.), as well as Sen. Catherine Cortez-Masto (D-Nev.) and Rep. Val Demings (D-Fla.). 

Aides to Biden have said that the running mate selection process is still in its early phases and that the list of potential candidates remains fluid.

One major topic of discussion among Biden’s allies is whether he should prioritize regional ties. For instance, picking Whitmer could help boost his candidacy in Michigan, a state that President Trump carried in 2016 and that Democrats are eager to win back. Demings could potentially help him in Florida, the nation’s largest swing state.

Some allies have also expressed a desire to see Biden pick a woman of color as his running mate, including Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.), the highest-ranking black member of Congress whose endorsement of Biden in February marked the beginning of a turning point for the former vice president’s campaign.

“I really believe that we’ve reached a point in this country where African American women need to be rewarded for the loyalty that they’ve given to this party,” Clyburn told NPR in an interview last month. “So I would really be pushing for an African American female to go on the ticket.”

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