Indiana Daily Student

OPINION: Biden should look beyond his 2020 opponents when picking running mate

<p>Former Vice President Joe Biden addresses supporters during a campaign rally March 9 at Renaissance High School in Detroit.</p>

Former Vice President Joe Biden addresses supporters during a campaign rally March 9 at Renaissance High School in Detroit.

The Democratic presidential primary will wrap up in the coming months, and former Vice President Joe Biden appears to be the overwhelmingly favorite candidate for the nomination. The next conversation is: Whom will Biden pick to be his running mate? The only thing we know for certain is that his choice will be a woman, as he announced on the debate stage earlier this month.

While some big names of previous 2020 presidential candidates such as Sens. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., have been floated as potential running mates, it'd be wise of Biden to look beyond his prior primary challengers.

I see quite a few major flaws in choosing a candidate who already ran for president as a running mate, especially in this election cycle. An underlying fear is that rehashing brings no new excitement when it comes time to vote. Voters are already for the most part aware of these politicians and have seen how they campaign in a national setting.

A vice presidential pick who didn't run stirs up excitement toward a ticket and invites voters to learn more about them. In an age of a reality show president who commands airtime even with an empty podium, Democrats can't afford to let President Donald Trump suck away all the attention this election.

Stacey Abrams is mentioned frequently as a running mate for Biden even before he announced his candidacy. She rose to the national spotlight in 2018 after running an impressive underdog gubernatorial campaign against then Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp and continued that legacy to become the first black woman to deliver the official rebuttal to a president's State of the Union. 

She's a fiery, outspoken figure who can invigorate the electorate to come out and vote this November as many worry Biden's "Sleepy Joe" label from Trump might underwhelm turnout. As Democrats seek to make gains in the south, an Abrams ticket would also seek to seize upon this hope and work to put more states like Georgia on the map for Democrats in elections to come.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, D-Mich., also presents herself as a strong candidate. She received attention in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, having had recent sharp back-and-forths with Trump as he claimed that she "doesn't have a clue" when it comes to the virus. She has held her own throughout this exchange, calling his response to the pandemic "slow" and "mindboggling."

Beyond the virus, she, like Abrams the year prior, delivered the official Democratic response to Trump's State of the Union address. In her speech, she went into careful detail about the successes new Democratic governors had in their states after the 2018 elections and what the future of the Democratic party brings. 

She touched upon economic prosperity for all beyond the stock market and the importance of expanding upon healthcare coverage in the U.S. A VP slot for Whitmer could bring a Midwestern, working-class angle to Biden’s ticket and bolster his electoral chances in swing state Michigan.

Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev., could also be a top recruit for Biden. The first Latina senator elected in the U.S., Cortez-Masto replaced longtime Senator and former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., in 2016.

When I met her in 2018, she was an extremely bright and charismatic new figure in politics. As Trump rails against undocumented immigrants, she presents an antithesis to his anti-immigrant policies and rhetoric as she can electrify turnout within the Latinx community across the country.

Ultimately, Biden has so much more to choose from than those he ran against. As he signals a potential one-term presidency, it is crucial Biden chooses wisely for his running mate because, if Biden wins this year, that person could immediately become the Democratic frontrunner in 2024.

Biden has a multitude of choices beyond the three I mentioned. For example, some have speculated that Rep. Val Demings, D-Fla., might be a top contender, while others have mentioned Sens. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wisc., and Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill. His options are seemingly limitless. This decision is an opportunity to present voters with a bold new choice for vice president and elevate the profile of a lesser-known politician.

Maximilian Sandefer (he/him) is a sophomore studying Spanish and political science. He is currently a legislative intern on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.

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