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Opinion Who wouldn’t put Kamala Harris on the VP shortlist?

Former vice president Joe Biden and Sen. Kamala D. Harris before the Democratic debate in Detroit on July 31. (Lucas Jackson/Reuters)

Former vice president Joe Biden confirmed what every serious political watcher knew: He is not going to hold a grudge against Sen. Kamala D. Harris’s (Calif.) over her attack during the first Democratic debate against him on busing. To the contrary, he sure would love to have her on the ticket. “Senator Harris has the capacity to be anything she wants to be,” Biden said while campaigning in Iowa. “I talked to her yesterday. She’s solid. She can be president someday herself. She can be the vice president. She can go on to be a Supreme Court justice.” Biden knows not to diminish her by suggesting her only next step is the vice presidency.

She brings prosecutorial zeal and verbal dexterity (always helpful when the VP assumes the attack-dog mantle), relative youth (55 years vs. Biden’s 77) and diversity to the ticket. She’s a relatively fresh face (in contrast to Biden), has experience in national security (sitting on the Senate Intelligence Committee) and superior media skills. Moreover, she was friends with Biden’s deceased son Beau, a fellow state attorney general. One cannot help but think picking her as a running mate would strike a deep emotional cord with Biden.

Harris is one of those potential VP contenders who would help virtually any candidate — and not simply because the serious contenders who remain are all white and she is an African American woman. South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg could use someone older, with inside-the-Beltway experience and a record on civil rights that would reassure many nonwhite voters. If she is on the ticket with Sen. Amy Klobuchar (Minn.), she provides some appeal for progressives; on a ticket with the super-progressive Sens. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), she becomes the more moderate vice president, someone with appeal outside the niche of white, New England progressives.

In one sense, Harris’s perceived fuzziness on issues during her own campaign becomes a plus as a vice president who can easily adopt the positions of the top of the ticket. Her own policy positions are not set in stone and are therefore not likely to clash with a running mate.

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Sure, Harris’s campaign failed, but few would argue that she lacked political skills, charisma, smarts and media prowess. As a vice presidential nominee, she would not be running the campaign; she would be on one that successfully navigated through a crowded field.

There is one more interesting scenario in which she may play a significant role. This cycle really is the one in which there is a reasonable chance no candidate will get a majority in the primaries, setting up a convention fight. Who wouldn’t want to have on his or her side someone part of the largest delegation (California), someone who racked up endorsements from the Congressional Black Caucus and someone who can deliver a boffo political speech in a big arena?

There will be plenty of other VP contenders, including the rest of the nonwinning presidential candidates, former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, both New Hampshire female U.S. senators (Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan) and female governors Gretchen Whitmer (Mich.), Michelle Lujan Grisham (N.M.) and Laura Kelly (Kan.), all three of whom were elected in 2018. Nevertheless, if you want to start handicapping the vice presidential pick, Harris probably should be at the top of the list.

Read more:

Karen Tumulty: Kamala Harris lacked what was most important of all

Jennifer Rubin: The two challenges that doomed Kamala Harris

David Byler: Why Kamala Harris’s failure echoes Marco Rubio’s

Paul Waldman: Why Kamala Harris couldn’t succeed

Alexandra Petri: The people have spoken! Kamala Harris is out!

Jonathan Capehart: Kamala Harris says Trump ‘has a reason to be afraid’ of her