Biden’s Veep and Cabinet Choices
The former VP is focused on beating Bernie Sanders but his team is looking ahead.
Jim VandeHei and Mike Allen report that “Joe Biden confidants are privately discussing potential leaders and Cabinet members for his White House, including the need to name a woman or African American — perhaps both — as vice president.”
That’s not the least bit surprising. Nor is this: “Biden advisers describe a Return to Normal plan — a reversal of President Trump’s unorthodox, improvisational style. Biden wants known, trusted people around him — many from the Obama years.”
One imagines that’s exactly what most Biden supporters—myself included—wanted: a return to normalcy.
But, of course, such normalcy will annoy many in the progressive camp.
Several high-profile possibilities:
John Kerry would love to take a new Cabinet position devoted to climate change, or might even accept a curtain call to return as secretary of state.
Susan Rice, formerly President Obama’s national security adviser, is another option for State.
Mike Bloomberg, who swiftly endorsed Biden after the former mayor’s campaign collapsed, would be a top possibility to head the World Bank.
Sally Yates, the deputy attorney general under Obama who stood up to Trump and was fired, would be a leading contender for attorney general.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren as Treasury secretary could help unite the party.
Jamie Dimon — chairman and CEO of JPMorgan Chase, and mentioned over the years as a potential presidential candidate — would also be considered for Treasury.
Anne Finucane, vice chairman of Bank of America, is another possibility for Treasury.
Biden advisers expect Pete Buttigieg to get a prominent slot after his swift endorsement of Biden — perhaps as ambassador to the UN, or as U.S. trade representative.
Both would help credential Buttigieg for a future national campaign.
None of these choices would shock anybody. Indeed, many OTB commenters have speculated about or wished for some of these choices.
But the dichotomies here also shine a light on the severe divides within the Democratic Party.
While Elizabeth Warren doesn’t come with Bernie Sanders’ “burn the house down” temperament, she fundamentally wants to radically transform our economic system, including breaking up the big banks. That she’s a candidate for the same job that Jamie Dimon and Anne Finucane are being considered for is almost laughable. They represent diametrically opposed theories of the job.
Similarly, having Warren at Treasury and Mike Bloomberg at the World Bank would seem to be self-negating.
The Veepstakes are less problematic in that regard but, again, familiar to OTB commenters:
Campaign officials say the name game isn’t where Biden’s head is — he knows he has major primary and general-election fights ahead.
Officials point out they don’t yet have a transition — and haven’t run a process that would surface new talent, like Dr. Steven Chu, the Nobel Prize physicist who was Obama’s first secretary of energy.
But it’s a sign of the sudden optimism around his candidacy that some in his circle of trust are starting to think down the road, starting with the V.P. pick:
Some Biden advisers hope he could overcome hard feelings from the Obama years and pick Warren for V.P. to excite party progressives.
Also high on the list of potential Biden picks for #2 are several African Americans: Sen. Kamala Harris (first on many lists) and Sen. Cory Booker, both of whom ended their nomination fights before the voting began … former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, who ended his presidential campaign after New Hampshire … and former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, who electrifies crowds.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar is in the mix, too.
Others who could bring diversity and relative youth to the ticket include Sen. Tammy Duckworth of Illinois and Rep. Val Demings of Florida, who got high marks as a House impeachment manager.
One adviser told us when we asked who the V.P. pick would be: “Whoever Jim Clyburn wants it to be.”
Indeed, Biden feels Clyburn — the South Carolinian who is the highest ranking African American in Congress — helped raise him from the dead with his endorsement. Black voters on Super Tuesday sealed Biden’s political salvation.
I’m not sure outsourcing the pick to Clyburn makes any sense. There are plenty of other ways to repay the favor.
Of the VP possibilities, Demings is the only one I hadn’t seen mentioned before. She makes no sense at all. Nor, frankly, does Abrams. Biden is an old man. He needs someone who is ready to be President immediately if tragedy strikes, not a neophyte.