The Democratic political field is awash with designing women.
Stacey Abrams, a former Georgia State House leader, is aggressively marketing herself as a potential vice president for Joe Biden — increasingly irritating those in the former veep’s orbit, an insider said.
Meanwhile, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, one Biden’s 2020 presidential-race rivals, is rarely mentioned as a possible running mate. She has her sights set on something else — secretary of defense, say those familiar with her plans.
Female former candidates have also been auditioning for the VP job — albeit more subtly than Abrams. On April 20, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar came in for a chummy appearance on Biden’s podcast “Here’s the Deal,” while just days later, California Sen. Kamala Harris joined forces with top Biden surrogate Symone Sanders for a “town hall addressing the impact and disparities of COVID-19 in the black community.”
“If they go with a black woman, it would be Kamala Harris, but she’s a clunky communicator and couldn’t generate any excitement for her own campaign with black or white voters,” the Biden insider said.”
As The Post previously reported, midwestern moderates like Klobuchar or Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer continue to have the inside track for a position Biden has promised to fill with a woman. A Data for Progress poll recently reported that Sen. Elizabeth Warren is the favorite among Democrats to be Biden’s running mate, with 31 percent picking the Massachusetts lawmaker.
While campaigning for vice president traditionally requires a delicate dance of private lobbying and public demurring, Abrams has flipped the script — openly campaigning for the position. In an April 22 appearance on “The View” Abrams said she has “concerns” about Biden “not picking a woman of color.”
In an interview with Elle Magazine a week earlier, Abrams gushed that she “would be an excellent running mate” and lauded her “25 years in independent study of foreign policy.”
But she has no previous national experience, and is mostly remembered for narrowly losing a race for governor of Georgia in 2018.
“No one takes Stacey seriously. And her public campaigning for the job seems more like a hostage negotiation than an actual attempt to get the job,” a Biden insider told The Post. “Biden is an old school guy and will always be. Picking Stacey would be like picking [Sarah] Palin. He doesn’t need to throw a Hail Mary. He wants a good governing partner.”
Internally, her star has fallen with the onset of the coronavirus as concerns grow about her preparedness.
“Stacey isn’t ready on day one. Even she knows that and it’s why she’s engaging in this dance. She might get perfunctorily better, but she’s not a serious pick for him. And her campaign is viewed as much as promotion for her book as it is for being chosen as Biden’s VP,” the insider continued, referring to Abrams’ forthcoming book “Our Time Is Now.”
But not everyone agrees. Tad Devine, a longtime Democratic strategist who has worked on multiple presidential and vice-presidential campaigns, says the Abrams’ approach shows personal authenticity.
“I don’t think it’s a liability at all,” Devine said of her public lobbying. “People are desperate for honesty now.”
Gillibrand, who has spent years focusing on military issues as a senior member of the Armed Services committee, is looking to become a #MeToo reformer in the Department of Defense.
“She wants to completely restructure the DoD, the military org chart, and overhaul the way complaints against those in power are handled, particularly as it relates to sexual assaults,” a Capitol Hill insider with knowledge of Gillibrand’s thinking told The Post.
Gillibrand has hinted at that goal repeatedly in the Senate. Last June she introduced the Comprehensive Resource Center for the Military Justice Improvement Act to address sexual assault in the armed forces, but so far the bill has gone nowhere. In 2016 she blasted the military’s “troubling command culture,” saying “the military justice system is still dysfunctional … sexual assault is still pervasive and survivors still don’t believe they will get justice.”
Gillibrand’s Plan A — to make change as president — collapsed when she suspended her campaign in Aug, 2019.
The competition for Biden’s No. 2, as well as potential cabinet posts in a Biden administration, are still wide open.
“Biden is old school. He believes in following the path, doing your time, learning how government work,” the insider said. “All these people think that the goal is to break a glass ceiling when they don’t realize they’re making the floor sticky.”
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