Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has chosen Senator Kamala Harris as his running mate, multiple reports confirmed on Tuesday.
Up until this afternoon no one — outside of Biden’s team and the candidates themselves — knew who the pick would be from among the 13 women Biden was considering, including presumed front-runners Harris and former national security adviser Susan Rice, as well as Representative Karen Bass, Senator Elizabeth Warren, Governor Gretchen Whitmer, Representative Val Demings, and Senator Tammy Duckworth.
When (and where) was the announcement made?
The news that Harris was the pick ended up breaking just after 4 p.m. on Tuesday. Biden made the announcement in a text message to supporters and then on Twitter.
According to the New York Times, “people briefed on the selection process said on Monday” that the Biden team was planning to announce his selection sometime in the middle of this week:
In a sign that the choice is now in Mr. Biden’s hands alone, the four-member committee that screened his potential running mates is said to have effectively disbanded — its work is complete, Biden allies said, and there is little left to do except for Mr. Biden to make up his mind.
Mr. Biden’s political team has prepared rollout plans for several of the finalists, and he is expected to announce his decision as soon as Tuesday, though more Democrats expect it to come on Wednesday. The former vice-president, however, has not been known for his punctuality so far in the presidential race, and the timeline could well slip again.
But another recent report indicated the actual event would not happen on Tuesday:
As far as where and how the event will go down, the Times noted Tuesday that a ballroom at the Hotel du Pont in Wilmington, Delaware, looked as if it could be the spot, as workers had been setting up for an event there:
[I]t is worth noting that the Hotel du Pont was where he announced his 1972 Senate candidacy. It is also where he has made major political appearances in the decades since — including, in March, the last in-person event he held before the coronavirus shuttered the campaign trail for months.
Workers who were seen setting up for the event at the hotel appeared to be from BNY Production, a company that has been a frequent vendor for the Biden campaign, according to Federal Election Commission records. A truck from Wizard Studios, another event-production company that has worked for the campaign, was also parked outside the hotel on Monday. By Tuesday morning, the doors to the street were closed, but an open door leading from the hotel lobby revealed large screens set up under the room’s chandeliers.
Was it worth deciphering the new DNC speaker list for clues?
Some veepstakesologists — and the Detroit Free Press — have tried to extrapolate Biden’s choice from the list of speakers for next week’s virtual Democratic National Convention, which was released on Tuesday, but as Intelligencer’s Ed Kilgore has already pointed out, that is most likely a mistake:
Some observers looking through the schedule have noticed that there is no mention of Susan Rice and wondered if it might be a tip-off that she’s the veep, but it’s clear the schedule was put together long before anyone other than Biden himself — and perhaps even Biden himself — knew the identity of his running mate. It’s likely an oversight.
Axios’s Fadel Allassan also dumped some cold water on the idea:
While many potential vice-presidential picks are already on the list of speakers, they could easily be moved to Wednesday night if they are Biden’s choice. The list does not include two potential finalists, former national security adviser Susan Rice and California Rep. Karen Bass, but that doesn’t mean they’re out of the running. [And t]he party said it will announce details and additional speakers in the coming days.
Put another way:
The Biden campaign has set up a support team for Harris
NBC News reported Tuesday that the Biden campaign has already assembled a team of strategists to work with the VP pick, whoever she is, including a communications director, senior adviser, policy adviser, and director of scheduling and advance — and Secret Service protection is undoubtedly imminent as well:
The team includes a pair of trusted Biden veterans who played key roles during his time in the White House and are familiar with the value and potential pitfalls of being a supporting player on the presidential ticket …
[T]he pick is also likely to have discretion to on-board at least some of their own staff to the campaign, to help bring institutional memory about her and familiarity to her that will be essential as the campaign progresses.
The ramp-up for the new vice-presidential candidate will be almost immediate. A Secret Service detail will be assigned to her as soon as the choice is communicated to the agency; 12 years ago, agents began arriving at Biden’s Delaware home in the early hours of Saturday morning ahead of his formal unveiling as Obama’s running mate.
How delaying the news could have benefitted Biden
Biden has repeatedly pushed back his announcement, which, as NBC News’ First Read noted on Tuesday, is both characteristic of Biden and may have some political value against Trump — even if it’s more a result of circumstance than of strategy:
[D]espite the frustration the delay is causing among some allies inside and outside of the party, there could be some upsides for Biden keeping things up in the air for a few more days.
First of all, President Trump is currently stuck in an unfavorable news cycle — at least until another story jolts him out of it. It doesn’t cost Biden much to let Trump continue to face questions for a few more days about the ongoing legislative stalemate over a coronavirus relief bill, the confusion over his executive orders on jobless benefits and the payroll tax, his dubious statements about children’s susceptibility to the virus, and the angry debate about the fate of college football during a pandemic.
A Biden announcement later in the week also shortens the time for stories about any backlash from allies of those not chosen — and it maybe prolongs a bit of momentum heading into a convention that could be (necessarily) a little underwhelming after the pandemic forced it almost entirely online.
Trump suggests that Biden’s women-only search was sexist and that vice-presidents don’t really matter (except for Pence!)
During a radio interview on Tuesday, the president came to the defense of men, as the Daily Beast’s Jaime Ross highlights:
Asked by [Fox Sports personality Clay] Travis who he would pick if he was in Biden’s position, the president replied: “I would be inclined to a different route to the way he’s done. First of all he roped himself into a, you know, certain group of people.” For those unable to crack the president’s mysterious code, Travis explained: “He said he had to pick a woman.”
Trump replied: “He said that. Some people would say that men are insulted by that, and some people would say it’s fine. I don’t know.”
Trump then completely dismissed the importance of a running mate — before appearing to realize what he was saying, stopping himself, lavishing praise on his right-hand man Mike Pence and then trashing the importance of Pence’s job yet again.