by Hans Izaak Kriek*
A politician must have a fine sense of timing. A crisis can be the perfect time for a public performance or new policy. But you can also be too eager. Did Joe Biden used George Floyds death for his campaign? The media have talked about the awkward position of Joe Biden before. Yes, he made his way to the nomination of the Democratic Party and has now gathered enough delegates in the primaries. But it proved quite difficult for a civilian citizen to act convincingly during the national disaster of the Covid-19 epidemic. President Trump has often teased him in recent months as ‘Hidden Biden’.
The violent death of George Floyd in Minneapolis two weeks ago gave Biden the opportunity to show himself again. He literally stepped out and delivered a speech in Philadelphia a week ago in response to police brutality and the demonstrations that followed to this day. But there’s bad news for Joe Biden. Terry McAuliffe, prominent Democrat and Joe Biden supporter, told a meeting of Virginia Democrats that the former vice president should remain in his Delaware home’s basement for the duration of the 2020 presidential campaign, according to a report on Wednesday.
McAuliffe, who was Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman in 2016, spoke via Zoom to a videoconference of the Norfolk City Democratic Committee.
“People say all the time, ‘Oh, we got to get the vice president out of the basement,” McAuliffe told the ‘monthly breakfast’, Fox News reported, citing a copy of the video it obtained. “He’s fine in the basement. Two people see him a day: his two-body people. That’s it. Let Trump keep doing what Trump’s doing.” The former Democratic governor of Virginia told the group that Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, will find it difficult to find a platform to compete with President Trump who can use White House’s bully pulpit. “It’s hard for the vice president to break through,” McAuliffe said. “You’ve got the COVID crisis. He is not a governor, does not have the National Guard. He is not the president, does not have the briefing room. He needs to come out strategically. And when he says something like he did on race relations two days ago, it needs to have a big impact, thoughtful, and that’s what we’re preferring that he actually do at the time.”
Another important issue in this presidential election year is who will Joe Biden pick as his running mate? He officially clinched nomination last week, now attention turns to choosing his VP candidate. The deadline for Biden is August 1, which actually gives him more time than originally planned. Usually, running mates are picked prior to national conventions being held, but the COVID-19 pandemic forced the Democratic National Convention, originally scheduled for July in Milwaukee, to be delayed until Aug. 17. So, Biden still has the rest of June and all of July to sift through candidates and still meet his desired deadline.
He already told reporters weeks ago his choice would probably be a black woman. In the wake of the Floyd death that incited protests and racial tension around the country, more people are nudging Biden to pick a black woman as his running mate. Many feel that not only would such a choice be a symbol of healing and unity, but it would also make history since a black woman has never been a vice presidential candidate. Time will tell if Biden agrees, but many feel there is no better time than now to choose a black woman.
The Washington Post just named its top 11 vice presidential picks for Joe Biden. They are all women. Each is reasonable, intelligent, articulate and brilliant. Five of them are black. But each comes with a considerable drawback. Only Senator Kamala Harris has national name recognition. The rest, former National Security Adviser Susan Rice, former congresswoman Stacey Abrams, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and congresswoman Val Demings, do not.
But there is also a new name, Condoleezza Rice. As a black woman, she can help bring the country together. She served in President George W. Bush’s Cabinet, both as US top diplomat and before that as national security adviser. But she also served (as an intern) in the Carter administration’s State Department as well as in President George H.W. Bush’s administration. She is a Republican, but she is no ideologue. Consequently, she would instantly appeal to independents across the nation. Her selection would constitute a unity ticket and could deprive President Trump not only of votes in the middle, but also of votes on the right.
Insiders of the Democrats do not expect to hear much concrete from Biden in the coming campaign. His main message is that he is not Donald Trump. That will carry the day for Democrats, regardless of their race or ethnicity.
*International political journalist and author of the Dutch political book ‘De Patatbalie’ about the relation between media and politicians