“She laughed and said, ‘that’s politics.’ She had no remorse,” Dodd told a longtime Biden supporter and donor, who relayed the exchange to POLITICO on condition of anonymity.“Dodd felt it was a gimmick, that it was cheap,” the donor said. The person added that Dodd’s concerns about Harris were so deep that he’s helped elevate California Rep. Karen Bass during the vetting process, urging Biden to pick her because “she’s a loyal No. 2. And that’s what Biden really wants.”
This would have eliminated George H.W. Bush as the vice president for President Ronald Reagan, given that Bush had dubbed his rival’s supply-side economics as “voodoo economics.” The message is as blunt as it is offensive: A women — and specifically a woman of color — cannot challenge an opponent and expect to stay in the running for vice president. Aggression will be held against her.
Two days after the piece ran and a social media firestorm broke out (including calls from some Harris supporters to boot Dodd off the team), Dodd’s spokesperson provided a written statement distancing him from the quote.
“Throughout the course of this process, I have had hundreds of conversations related to the Vice-Presidential search," it read. “Out of respect for the confidentiality of this process, I have refrained from commenting on the media speculation about any of the candidates, but the anonymous comments reported in POLITICO yesterday do not represent my view on Senator Harris nor what I have shared with Vice President Biden, and need to be addressed.” (The statement does not deny he said what Politico reported, only that it did not represent his views. Politico never reported Dodd had shared that sentiment with Biden.)
The statement concluded, "As with all the candidates, I have nothing but the utmost respect for Senator Harris and her qualifications.” The spokesperson did not respond to my question as to whether the senator had reached out to apologize to Harris.
In a separate Politico article an anonymous consultant for the Biden campaign came up with a new standard for the vice president: “There is no one ideal home run choice.” The headline of that article characterizes Biden’s search as “coming up short,” effectively denigrating the eventual pick and casting her as the best Biden could find.
Biden, when asked by reporters on Tuesday to address his VP search after delivering remarks on his Build Back America plan, remained tight-lipped, confirming only that he planned to announce a pick in the first week of August. An Associated Press photographer, however, captured Biden’s handwritten notes which included the following bullet points:
Do not hold grudges.Campaigned with me & Jill.Talented.Great help to campaign.Great respect for her.
In other words, whatever Dodd may have said does not reflect the candidate’s views.
To put this in context, let’s remember that Biden eventually will pick a woman, as promised, giving her the best shot in history to become vice president and instantly making her a future top contender for president. Moreover, if Harris, who remains the top pick for vice president, gets the nod, Biden will effectively rebut the notion that women who confront their peers should be punished. (Indeed, the initial reaction among many women including my colleague Karen Tumulty was that this should bolster her chances.)
That said, this may be a disturbing preview of things to come. Prepare for the slights, sneers and snide remarks about whomever the nominee turns out to be. Get ready to see her background and accomplishments diminished. The campaign will need to take this on directly and show they have zero tolerance for the double standard women have had to put up with for decades.