Biden VP Pick — One Clear Frontrunner, One Intriguing Wild Card; Plus, Putin’s Vaccine
Author: Greg Valliere
August 11, 2020
AT LONG LAST, Joe Biden will announce his running mate, either today or tomorrow. The delay has clarified one issue: Biden has to pick an African American woman; if he doesn’t he would risk a major rift within the party.
THE TRIAL BALLOON for Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer over the past weekend may have been an attempt by Biden’s advisers to assess how Whitmer, who is white, would be received by the party’s Black activists. The answer: poorly; they want a Black candidate and there would be a furor if Biden doesn’t pick one.
KAMALA HARRIS REMAINS THE CLEAR FAVORITE: The daughter of a Jamaican who was a professor at Stanford, and an Indian cancer researcher who taught for many years at McGill in Montreal, Harris would be a popular pick among African-Americans.
SOME ON THE FAR LEFT are critical of her record as San Francisco DA and California Attorney General; they believe Harris wasn’t aggressive enough on police brutality cases and was too eager to jail Blacks on drug charges. But she’s the safe pick, and the Biden camp probably has forgiven her for knifing him in the Democrats’ first debate.
THERE’S ONE INTRIGUING WILD CARD: Former Orlando Police Chief Val Demings, now a highly regarded House member, could inoculate Biden on charges that Democrats are insufficiently concerned about urban crime.
LOOTING IN CHICAGO THIS WEEK, plus continued violent rioting in Portland and Seattle, gives Donald Trump an opening to exploit. Demings, an African American, is considered too moderate and pro-police by some in the party, but she could help Biden carry Florida — a potentially huge asset.
IN THE FINAL ANALYSIS a running mate rarely makes a big difference; occasionally a VP pick is too controversial, such as John McCain’s pick of Sarah Palin in 2008; occasionally a running mate helps the ticket win a key state, such as Lyndon Johnson in 1960. But the Biden pick seems more crucial than usual, since he turns 78 on Nov. 20.
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THE POLITICIZATION OF VACCINES: The announcement this morning from Vladimir Putin that Russia has a coronavirus vaccine undoubtedly will speed up efforts to rush out other vaccines. This is a crucial story for Trump, who’s desperately spinning a narrative that he’s handled the virus well.
THE U.S. PRESIDENT undoubtedly will proclaim that a vaccine is ready for use before the Nov. 3 election; he’s already pressuring the Food and Drug Administration to move quickly to approve vaccines in the pipeline. Most medical experts don’t anticipate a safe and effective vaccine until year-end at the earliest, but Trump is virtually certain to proclaim by October that a cure has arrived.
THE NEWS FROM PUTIN is encouraging, despite widespread skepticism that the drug has not been properly vetted. As for Trump, whose polling numbers have improved, we reiterate that it’s still too early to write him off. A vaccine — regardless of whether it’s clearly safe and effective — would boost his re-election prospects.
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