Joe Biden’s running mate: Whitmer, Abrams among potential names on short list

Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s search for a running mate is likely well underway. Based on CBS News’ reporting, several women have been discussed within the Biden campaign as likely to be vetted or have been recommended to the campaign by other prominent Democrats.

The vetting process may look a little different this year because of the constraints caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Biden recently said he expects the vetting process to take at least five to eight weeks. Previously, he said hopes to announce his decision by July. 

While he has also said that at least a dozen women are under consideration, sources have told CBS News Biden is seriously considering five to eight of these potential picks. Beyond contact with the vetting committee, top Biden staff like campaign manager Jen O’Malley Dillon and other senior advisers are in frequent contact — sometimes every day — with aides to these women.  Several high-profile Democrats told CBS News they are urging Biden to pick a woman of color

Long before he became the presumptive nominee in April, Biden outlined what he would look for in a running mate. He said his vice president should have the experience necessary to be president at a moment’s notice, have strengths where he has weaknesses, and share a certain “simpatico” quality with him. 


Senator Kamala Harris of California has long been rumored to be a frontrunner for the position. As the former California attorney general, Harris could bring law enforcement and recent legislative experience to the ticket. Harris was also the only black woman to launch a presidential bid during this primary cycle.

However, many have not forgotten Harris’ confrontation of Biden during the first Democratic debate over busing and his remarks about segregationist senators. Questions surrounding Harris’ time as a prosecutor and California attorney general have also raised concerns among some of the more progressive wings of the party, although lately, she has been working with progressive legislators on bills in the House and Senate.

Harris has become an increasingly visible Biden campaigner. She has said that she has a “great deal of affection,” for Biden and said at a fundraiser for Biden back in April, “He sees people. He understands their pain, he understands their dreams.”  Biden at the same event caused a storm of speculation that Harris might be a leading running mate contender when he said, “I’m so lucky to have you as part of this, this partnership going forward,” and added, “So, I’m coming for you, kid.”  

Harris was asked during a recent interview with MSNBC if she was currently being vetted for the position, and she declined to answer.

If a Biden-Harris ticket were to win in 2020, the Democratic governor of the state, Gavin Newsom, would appoint a new California senator to replace Harris, so it would likely not affect the balance of the Senate.

Reported by 2020 campaign reporter Tim Perry. 


Biden recently said he “wouldn’t be the nominee” without the help of Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar. The three-term senator ended her own presidential campaign just before Super Tuesday in March and endorsed Biden later that evening in an energetic Texas campaign rally. The next day with her support, Biden won her home state of Minnesota over Senator Bernie Sanders, who won the state’s primary in 2016. During her own presidential campaign the senator, 59, regularly touted the hundreds of bills she has passed in the Senate, a statistic the former vice president seems to appreciate. 

Klobuchar’s formidable debate skills impressed Biden during the primary race. When she mentioned the Democratic debates as she endorsed him, he interjected, “all which you won.”

He has also complimented Klobuchar’s commitment to bipartisan legislation. Her whole campaign somewhat mirrored Biden’s own message about winning back the Midwest and the Rust Belt, areas where Donald Trump flipped in the last election. 

Klobuchar has also proven to be an adept fundraiser for Biden, bringing in $1.5 million for him at a virtual fundraiser in May.

And as is the case for Harris, if Klobuchar were on a winning ticket with Biden, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz, a Democrat, would choose a replacement, likely leaving the Senate balance unchanged.

Reported by 2020 campaign reporter Bo Erickson. 


Elizabeth Warren was for a time one of the main barriers standing between Biden and the Democratic nomination. Releasing a succession of plans over the past year — “I’ve got a plan for that” became a catch phrase — the Massachusetts senator often led the policy discussion in the Democratic primary. She popularized ideas like eliminating student loan debt for most Americans. Recently, Biden embraced a more fulsome effort to help Americans address student debt.

Beyond endorsing Biden and unequivocally telling MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow she would accept an offer to be his running mate, Warren has largely stayed away from public lobbying for the job. She has focused on oversight and protections in government COVID-19 relief packages, becoming a leading voice in the Senate calling for increased rights for essential workers, debt relief for consumers and a national contact tracing program, among other measures. Warren, who led the oversight commission for the 2008 financial crisis bailout, has also been a critic of the Trump Administration’s coronavirus response.

Warren led Democrats’ choices on who should be Biden’s running mate and who should be considered in an early May CBS News poll. But while she might be acceptable to the Democratic base, her progressive policies could be a concern for moderate Republicans on the fence, independents, or for the more moderate Biden. 

Biden has said he would pick someone with whom he is “simpatico,” and his political differences with Warren could prove too great. The two differ both on prime issues like health care and on messaging as candidates. While Biden called for a return to order from the campaign trail, Warren demanded, “Big structural change.” And while Warren swore off high-dollar fundraising events at the start of her campaign, he frequently made stops on the trail to boost his war chest. 

The two famously clashed over bankruptcy reform a decade and a half ago, before Warren ever ran for office, but in March Biden backed Warren’s latest bankruptcy plan, demonstrating a willingness to bend to some of her more progressive views. In a video released Sunday, the two teamed up on what had been a staple of Warren’s campaign: calling and thanking small-dollar donors. 

“I was kidding with the senator a moment ago. I said, you know, I used to call my contributors, but I never had as many until she endorsed me.” he said. “And so I’m counting on her a great deal not just for endorsement but for her ideas and her leadership.”

Reported by 2020 campaign reporter Zak Hudak. 

For many reasons, Catherine Cortez Masto is an appealing choice to be Biden’s running mate. She was the first female senator elected from Nevada, and the first Latina ever to serve in the upper chamber. Prior to her senatorial election in 2016 when she replaced Harry Reid, Cortez Masto served as attorney general for eight years. 

During that tenure she worked closely with then-California Attorney General Kamala Harris and the late Beau Biden, who was then Delaware attorney general. Biden campaigned for Cortez Masto in 2016 and spoke about his son’s relationship with her on the trail. Cortez Masto evoked that friendship last week when she officially endorsed the former VP calling the late Biden, “a good friend.” Nonetheless, there are questions about whether she’d accept the offer if it were made.

The governor of Nevada is also a Democrat, Steve Sisolak, and he would be expected to select a Democrat to replace Cortez Masto in the event of a vacancy.

Reported by 2020 campaign reporter Cara Korte.


Governor Gretchen Whitmer has garnered national attention for leading the state’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, drawing criticisms from President Donald Trump and driving speculation that she is considered to be Biden’s running mate. Biden, who won the Michigan primary on March 10, said in early April that Whitmer is on his list of potential running mates.

In an interview with Politico on April 27, Whitmer said she has not turned over any documents to the Biden campaign for vetting and explained that she is not lobbying for the job.

“I just know that you know you don’t run for that,” Whitmer said. “That is a selection of the top of the ticket and everyone else should be just busy doing their jobs.”

In multiple interviews throughout the month of April, Whitmer, one of the national campaign co-chairs for Biden’s campaign, has not been as forceful as some other vice presidential contenders when asked if she is willing to serve as Biden’s running mate. She said it was an honor to be mentioned with a “phenomenal caliber of women leaders,” but she has repeatedly stated she has devoted her energy entirely to handling the coronavirus pandemic in Michigan. In an interview with CNN, Whitmer said she campaigned for two years to become Michigan’s governor, adding that “the job that I want is the one that I have.” 

“While it has been challenging and there have been some tough days, there is no place I would rather be than right here in my home state, making decisions that are saving people’s lives,” Whitmer noted in the CNN interview. “I think it is the honor of my lifetime to be here.”

Democrats are hoping to win Michigan after President Trump won the state by nearly 11,000 votes. In 2018, Whitmer, who notoriously ran on the message to “fix the damn roads,” was elected governor in 2018 and defeated the Republican candidate Bill Schuette by nearly 10 points. Michigan was one of seven states in the 2018 midterm election where the governor’s mansion flipped from Republican to Democratic. 

Reported by 2020 campaign reporter Jack Turman. 

Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham of New Mexico, elected to her first term in 2018, is one of a handful of governors expected to be considered as a potential running mate. Lujan Grisham also served as a member of the House of Representatives for six years, giving her the federal experience some might be looking for to fill the position. While in Congress, Lujan Grisham served as the head of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus during her last year in office. Currently overseeing her state’s pandemic measures, she has seen some success including her state having the first drive- through testing for COVID-19. 

When CNN asked Lujan Grisham about being a potential pick she said, “I want to be the governor of New Mexico. I will do whatever it takes to support a Biden administration, and I’m looking forward to a federal administration that can do a national strategy in good times and in bad times, both.”

If she’s selected and the ticket wins, the lieutenant governor, Howie Morales, also a Democrat, would become governor.

Reported by 2020 campaign reporter Tim Perry.


Stacey Abrams has been on the speculative lists of potential Democratic running mates since before the party had a nominee. Even in losing her run for Georgia governor in 2018, the former Georgia state House minority leader has been a rising star in the party for years. Though Abrams passed on running for the Senate and White House in 2020, she has been forthright in expressing her wish to be Joe Biden’s running mate. 

“I would be an excellent running mate,” she told Elle Magazine. 

While some critics have questioned Abrams’ outspokenness, others have simply said that she is unqualified. According to the New York Post, one Biden insider said, “Picking Stacey would be like picking [Sarah] Palin. He doesn’t need to throw a Hail Mary. He wants a good governing partner.”

Nevertheless, Abrams has been a stalwart Biden supporter and defender in the lead up to the vetting process. She was the first potential running mate to comment on Tara Reade’s assault allegations, telling HuffPo in April that she stood behind Biden. 

Reported by 2020 campaign reporter Cara Korte. 


Senator Tammy Baldwin could offer a rare mix of progressivism and swing state support to Biden’s ticket. She has spent her time in Washington farther left than Biden on several issues including healthcare — she was an early supporter of “Medicare for All” — but she has twice won by a wide margin in the swing state of Wisconsin, which President Trump carried in 2016. A lesbian, Baldwin would also be the first LGBTQ candidate on the presidential ticket for any major party.

Despite some of her progressive positions, Baldwin has recently shown a willingness to work with the other side. In late April, she teamed up with Missouri Republican Senator Josh Hawley to request that the Federal Trade Commission launch an anti-trust investigation in the meatpacking industry as companies shut down pork plants after COVID-19 infections in workers.

Baldwin has been less blunt than some other contenders about her interest in a vice president job, but has indicated that she sees her Wisconsin success as an asset to the Biden campaign, and that she is there to help. 

“I am in regular contact with the Biden campaign,” she told CBSN last week. “I want to make sure that that Vice President Biden becomes the next president of the United States.

If Baldwin’s seat were to become vacant, it would likely remain vacant until a special election in 2021.

Reported by 2020 campaign reporter Zak Hudak. 


Illinois Senator Tammy Duckworth endorsed Biden a day before Super Tuesday, where Biden picked up significant wins to pave his way to becoming the presumptive nominee. In a recent interview with the Daily Herald, Duckworth commented on speculation that Biden is considering her to be his running mate, saying she “would take any invitation to serve at the pleasure of a president very seriously.”

She told “The View” that she is focused on helping elect Biden to become president and said she’ll “leave the Biden camp to their [vetting] process.”

If selected to be Biden’s running mate, Duckworth, an Iraq War veteran who lost both of her legs in combat, would be the first Asian-American woman to be on the ticket. Duckworth served in the House of Representatives for four years and was the former assistant secretary of the Veterans Affairs Administration before becoming a U.S. senator. 

Duckworth made history in 2018 when she became the first senator to give birth while in office. Senators have to cast their vote in person, but babies weren’t allowed on the Senate floor. The Senate voted to change the rules in order for Duckworth to bring her daughter, Maile, onto the Senate floor so Duckworth could vote. 

If her seat were left vacant, Democratic Governor J.B. Pritzker would name a new senator, likely leaving the balance of the Senate unchanged.

Reported by 2020 campaign reporter Jack Turman. 


While she may not be the most prominent contender of those being considered for the Democratic vice presidential pick, Congresswoman Val Demings of Florida has been rumored to be in the mix. Demings, who was a Democratic House manager in the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump, was elected to Congress in 2016 and is up for re-election this year. 

She endorsed Biden in March, just two days after his strong Super Tuesday showing, when he picked up primary wins in nearly all of the 14 contests held that day.

“As a former social worker, a former career law enforcement officer, and a former police chief, I’ve seen the best of America and I’ve seen the worst of America,” said Demings during the CNN interview when she endorsed Biden. “…America is always at its best when people have the opportunity to succeed and we have leaders in place who understand that.”

Before her election to Congress, Demings worked with the Orlando Police Department for 27 years and made history in 2007 by becoming the city’s first woman police chief. In Congress, she sits on multiple committees and is a member of various caucuses including the Congressional Black Caucus. During an interview with MSNBC AM Joy in April, Demings said she would definitely step into the role of vice presidential candidate if asked.

“If Joe Biden asked me to serve as his vice president during such a critical and tough time for our nation, of course I would say yes to continue to serve the people who need the help the most.”

If her seat were to become open, it would be filled by special election.

Reported by 2020 Campaign Reporter LaCrai Mitchell


Susan Rice has deep connections with President Obama’s administration — she served as his national security adviser and as the U. S. ambassador to the United Nations. In an interview with MSNBC, Rice commented on rumors that Biden’s team is considering her to be Biden’s running mate, saying she is “humbled and honored to among the extremely accomplished women who are reportedly being considered.” Rice added that she would agree to serve as Biden’s running mate if asked.

“I want to help enable him to become the next President of United States, in any way I can, and to support him if he wins in any way I can, because I believe that’s what is vitally important for the future of our country,” Rice said. “And it’s not about me. It’s not about my ambitions. I am not campaigning for anything. But, you know, obviously, if — if that were the role in which he felt I could best serve, then I’m not going to say no.”

Rice has not held elective office, but she has foreign policy experience, which is often a part of a vice president’s portfolio. Rice, however, faced a strong backlash from Republicans after the Benghazi attack on American government facilities in 2012. The criticism of Rice stemmed from her remark the Benghazi attack was a spontaneous protest against the anti-Islamic video. The intelligence Rice shared turned out to be wrong, when evidence later emerged showing the attack was a concerted terrorist effort.

Rice recently wrote an op-ed in the New York Times advocating for free and fair elections in November. As voting rights and voting changes are rising to the forefront of a presidential election year and amid the coronavirus pandemic, Rice wrote that Congress should provide $5 billion to fund elections and require states to provide reforms to make voting easier, like allowing at least 20 days of early voting and drive-through voting.

Reported by 2020 campaign reporter Jack Turman. 


Joe Biden floated Sally Yates’ name as a woman qualified to be vice president in Iowa late last year, but the former deputy attorney general has stayed largely out of the public eye since the campaign started. Yates earned widespread respect in the Democratic Party for refusing to defend President Donald Trump’s travel ban on predominantly Muslim countries when she served as acting attorney general. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called her a “profile in courage” after her firing.

Yates again clashed with President Trump when she testified in a Senate Judiciary subcommittee hearing about the warnings she and President Obama had given the Trump administration about ties Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn had to Russia.

Now working at a law firm in Atlanta, she has never held elected office. But she has a long resume, working as a prosecutor and as Georgia attorney general, including leading the prosecution of the Centennial Atlanta Olympic Park bomber.  

In a statement endorsing Biden in March, Yates said she was endorsing Biden because she trusts him: “”I trust him to always put the country’s interests before his own; to tell us the truth; to appeal to our best, not our worst, instincts; to unite rather than divide us; and to always treat the presidency as a privilege rather than an entitlement.”

Reported by 2020 campaign reporter Zak Hudak. 

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