The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Opinion Biden vetting rumors are circulating. Here are the VP finalists we see.

I’m Karen Tumulty, and for Round 63, we’re checking back in on who will share the ticket with Joe Biden. Since our last ranking in March, would-be veeps have done some vigorous campaigning in public and behind the scenes, and Biden promised he’ll pick a woman. (Sorry, Cory Booker.) But — which one?

The Commentary

In some ways, the least significant aspect of Biden’s choice of a running mate is figuring out who is most likely to help him win in November. Far more important is the question of who can best help him govern — and who is most qualified to take over as president herself.

Biden would be the oldest president ever to take office, and he has not discouraged speculation that he would serve only one term. Should he be elected this fall, whoever he picks as VP would automatically be in the lead position to become this nation’s first female president. And even if Biden loses, his running mate could emerge as the most influential figure in determining the Democrats’ next moves.

Biden understands all this. He also knows that his own résumé was the main reason he got the nod from Barack Obama in 2008. Biden was on the ticket to answer qualms that a freshman senator wasn’t prepared to handle the presidency.

So who will be Biden’s Biden? There are talented political newcomers out there, notably Stacey Abrams, but my hunch is that experience will once again be the Democratic nominee’s overriding consideration.

Most obvious among the leading contenders are the three female senators who opposed him in the primaries. Biden’s heart probably leads him toward Amy Klobuchar. (It’s now known that Klobuchar has been asked to undergo the vetting process, and it would be surprising if she weren't.) But Biden also faces significant pressure to pick an African American, which gives Kamala D. Harris an edge. Selecting Elizabeth Warren would excite the party’s progressive base.

In the early handicapping, I don’t think the governors are being talked about as much as they should be. As a group, their political stock has skyrocketed during the pandemic. I’ve written before why Gretchen Whitmer (Mich.) should be on Biden’s shortlist. But she is not even halfway through her first term, and she cannot afford to be distracted from her day job now, given Michigan’s covid-19 toll. Rhode Island’s well-regarded Gina Raimondo would also be a solid pick. But if Biden goes looking outside the Senate, keep your eye on New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham.

— Karen Tumulty

The Ranking

Don’t forget to click on the chart’s yellow highlighted text to see the rest of the Ranking Committee’s annotations.

Potential VP
Change Over Last VP Ranking
Kamala D. Harris
Amy Klobuchar
Elizabeth Warren
UP 5
Gretchen Whitmer
UP 1
Tammy Duckworth
UP 4
Val Demings
Stacey Abrams
Michelle Lujan Grisham
Tammy Baldwin
UP 1
Gina Raimondo

Falls off ranking: Catherine Cortez-Masto, Cory Booker, Maggie Hassan

Previous round: Round 62 | Here’s who could spoil the election — for Biden or Trump

From the Annotations

If Biden is really planning an FDR-style presidency, as he clearly wants voters to believe, then picking Warren as veep would telegraph he’s dead serious about it.
— Greg Sargent, on Elizabeth Warren
The vetting gives Biden a chance to comb through her records.
— David Byler, on Amy Klobuchar

Agree? Disagree? Share your thoughts in the comments. We’ll see you for the next ranking. Until then, you’d best behave. Maybe you’re getting vetted, too.

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George F. Will: This is the vice president who would restore adult supervision in Washington

Jennifer Rubin: Joe Biden must be doing something right

Greg Sargent and Paul Waldman: Joe Biden is stuck in his basement. It’s exactly where he needs to be.

David Von Drehle: Why campaign fundraising isn’t the factor to bank on

Henry Olsen: Joe Biden may talk from the center. But he would likely govern from the left.