with Brent D. Griffiths

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The Campaign

PAST DEADLINE AND OVER THE CHARACTER COUNT: We're down to the final days of Joe Biden's veepstakes and the short list is, well, still quite long. As the presumptive Democratic nominee's search for a running mate is expected to drag into next week, past the original Aug. 1 deadline, the competition among some of the party's brightest stars — and their allies — has only intensified. 

The fight to elect the first female vice president in history, however, has also supercharged the conversation about sexism in politics — especially as the candidates are forced to confront gendered personal jabs made by prominent men. 

“Even some longtime Biden allies worry the process has become ‘messier than it should be,' pitting women, especially Black women, against one another,” our colleague Annie Linskey reports. 

Senator Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.) has been accused of being “too ambitious” and rub[bing] people the wrong way.” Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.), the latest target of negative attention, is now seeking to clean up her past warm comments on Cuba's former leader Fidel Castro and the Church of Scientology and making a point to stress that she could not see herself as a future presidential candidate. 

  • “It’s been relentless. It’s been unfortunate. But I must say it’s been predictable,” Donna Brazile, a former interim chair of the Democratic National Committee, told Annie. “It’s extremely disappointing, because many of these attacks are being made by Democratic men who should know better. 
  • “It bugs me that people want to pit these two Black women against the other,” Rep. James E. Clyburn (D-S.C.), a key Biden confidant, told Annie of a brewing Bass vs. Harris narrative. “Nobody is trying to pit Sen. Elizabeth Warren against [Michigan Gov. Gretchen] Whitmer. And both of their names are being mentioned every day as being in the search.”
  • And Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell, a longtime Biden ally, focused on the smile and personality in assessing the buzz about another contender, former national security adviser Susan E. Rice: “She was smiling on TV, something that she doesn’t do all that readily,” Rendell told Annie. “She was actually somewhat charming on TV, something that she has not seemed to care about in the past.”

Biden is expected to interview five or six finalists, instead of the traditional three, contributing to “a sense, even among Biden’s closest advisers, that Biden is entering the final phase of the search without a clear favorite,” Annie notes. In addition to Harris, Bass, Rice, Warren and Whitmer, other possibilities include Rep. Val Demings (D-Fla.), Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) and Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms.  

  • The indecision has consequences: Several people interviewed said the delay has intensified currents, many of them sexist, that have been swirling for weeks. The resulting backbiting risks inflaming divisions within the party that complicated the 2016 campaign — but that Biden has worked to coalesce since locking down the nomination in the spring.”

More on what Biden's looking for from the New York Times's Jonathan Martin, Alexander Burns, and Katie Glueck:  “Mr. Biden is said to be focused on finding a running mate he regards as capable of advancing his priorities in governing and who can be counted on not to stray from the urgent challenges facing the nation to pursue their own political priorities, according to people familiar with his thinking. His advisers would also prefer a running mate who would not present a rich political target for President Trump, given that the incumbent is lagging badly in the polls and has so far struggled to deliver credible negative attacks against Mr. Biden. 

  • Biden's search committee has faced public and private pressure to choose a Black running mate in the wake of protests against systemic racism that have gripped the country: “A small group of strategists and activists who have been pressing for a Black woman recently spoke with members of the search committee, according to two people with knowledge of the conversation,” Martin, Burns and Glueck report. “They discussed the electoral map and how the political environment in the country had shifted following the killing of George Floyd in police custody in May.” 

In the meantime, candidates are making the rounds. Bass went on NBC News's “Meet the Press” to parry back criticism about her previous comments leveled by Republicans. She insisted her position on Cuba was “really no different than the position of the Obama administration”: “I don't consider myself a Castro sympathizer,” she said. 

And Bass sought to diffuse any perceived tension with Harris after Politico called her the “anti-Kamala Harris”: I would never want to be labeled the ‘anti-Kamala Harris,’” she tweeted. “We’re fortunate to have had her as Attorney General and now as Senator. She would be an excellent VP and the same goes for anyone else on the list.” 

  • “Why are you comparing me with her?” Bass said on the radio show “The Breakfast Club.” "Why don't you compare Whitmer with Warren?"

Harris appeared to addressed the backbiting, too, in the wake of comments from Florida bundler John Morgan, who said she'd be “running for president the day of the inauguration,” and from former Sen. Chris Dodd, a member of Biden's vetting team who reportedly said Harris had “no remorse” about attacking Biden on the debate stage. Harris encouraged viewers of the Black Women Lead 2020 conference to embrace their ambition and “black girl magic.” 

  • "There will be a resistance to your ambition, there will be people who say to you, 'you are out of your lane,'" Harris said. "They are burdened by only having the capacity to see what has always been instead of what can be. But don't you let that burden you."

The eventual pick, whoever it is, will likely serve as an injection of enthusiasm to a campaign that has been derailed by the global pandemic. Our Jenna Johnson and Holly Bailey write this morning that Biden supporters in key states that may decide the presidential election want the former vice president to expand his presence and message. 

  • “They are lobbying for Biden to take a more aggressive stance, worried that despite his seeming advantage he has failed so far to persuade people to vote for him — not simply against Trump,” per Jenna and Holly.
  • I want to see Democrats doing more to get one another excited for this race,” Pennsylvania state Rep. Ryan Bizzarro (D), whose Erie County district split its vote in 2016, told them. “I want some more movement up here, I want a presence up here. I think that’s really needed. It’s needed now more than ever.”
  • There are some indications that the Biden team is scaling up:In several key states, the candidate’s visibility has increased each week, many Democrats say — more ads on televisions and radio, more mentions on social media, more signs in yards — and there’s widespread optimism that the campaign will be a powerful force by Labor Day, the traditional start of all-out general-election campaigning. The campaign plans to have more than 2,000 staff members in battleground states by then.” 

On The Hill

TRUMP EYES UNILATERAL ACTION AS RELIEF PLAN STALLS: “The Trump administration is looking at options for unilateral actions it can take to try to address some of the economic fallout caused by the pandemic if no relief deal is reached with Congress,” Erica Werner and Jeff Stein report this morning.

  • “It’s not clear what steps the administration could take without the help of Congress on issues such as lapsed enhanced unemployment benefits or the expired moratorium on evictions — the two matters [Trump] has recently identified as his highest priorities in the ongoing talks. Both of those programs were authorized by Congress earlier this year but were designed to be temporary.”

BOTH SIDES STILL FAR APART ON RELIEF PLAN: “Cases are surging, the fragile economic recovery has stalled and millions of jobless Americans just lost emergency unemployment benefits. In response, Congress is doing what it does best: nothing at all,” Erica and Seung Min Kim report this morning.

  • What happened?: “At that time, the new virus that was wreaking economic havoc around the nation was so alarming it seemed to startle lawmakers out of their partisan corners,” our colleagues write about the passage of the $3 trillion Cares Act. “But now the election is nearing, and the novel coronavirus is not so novel. The partisan divisions are back on Capitol Hill, and they appear to be as intractable as ever.”
  • Key quote: “In order to cut deals and find compromise in this hyperpartisan political environment you have to have at least a small amount of trust in each other,” Jim Manley, who was a top aide to former Senate Democratic leader Harry M. Reid of Nevada, told our colleagues. “The problem right now is that no one trusts their colleagues on the other side of the aisle.”

Where talks stand: “House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows made clear in separate interviews that they remain far apart on [a deal] that would restore expired unemployment benefits for millions of Americans,” Erica and Eli Rosenberg report.

There were some signs of progress during a rare weekend meeting at the Capitol: They plan to meet again [today], but pointed to multiple areas of disagreement that suggest consensus remains elusive, even while saying they would continue to work toward a deal,” our colleagues write.

  •  “We still have a long ways to go,” Meadows said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” “I’m not optimistic that there will be a solution in the very near term.”

At The White House

MICROSOFT BACK TO EYEING TIKTOK: “Microsoft said it will continue talks to buy short-form video app TikTok after its chief executive spoke with [Trump], following a weekend of uncertainty clouding the future of the Chinese-owned app,” Rachel Lerman reports.

  • Such a deal could dramatically alter the Big Tech landscape: Microsoft, currently valued at $1.55 trillion, is the third-most valuable company in the world and is one of the only ones positioned to take on such a purchase,” our colleagues write.

A handful of Senate Republicans endorsed the plan: But Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), who chairs the Commerce Committee, cautioned that “tight security measures need to be part of any deal in order to protect consumer data and ensure no foreign access," Reuters's David Shepardson reports.

Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have been critical of TikTok's Chinese ownership: Pompeo said on Fox News’s “Sunday Morning Futures” that Trump will take action “shortly.” The secretary repeated the charge that TikTok is “feeding data directly to the Chinese Communist Party," a charge TikTok denies. 

  • Geoffrey A. Fowler, who has done a number of privacy-related investigations for The Post, previously wrote, “there’s scant evidence that TikTok is sharing our data with China, and we should be wary of xenophobia dressed up as privacy concerns."

Outside the Beltway

HIGH HOPES FOR INSTANT VACCINE FIX UNREALISTIC: “Public health experts are discussing among themselves a new worry: that hopes for a vaccine may be soaring too high. The confident depiction by politicians and companies that a vaccine is imminent and inevitable may give people unrealistic beliefs about how soon the world can return to normal — and even spark resistance to simple strategies that can tamp down transmission and save lives in the short term,” Carolyn Y. Johnson reports.

  • Where things stand: “Two coronavirus vaccines entered the final stages of human testing last week, a scientific speed record that prompted top government health officials to utter words such as ‘historic’ and ‘astounding.’ Pharmaceutical executives predicted to Congress in July that vaccines might be available as soon as October, or before the end of the year.”
  • Declaring there's a safe vaccine is just the beginning: Deploying the vaccine to people in the United States and around the world will test and strain distribution networks, the supply chain, public trust and global cooperation. It will take months or, more likely, years to reach enough people to make the world safe,” our colleague writes.

Government researchers are also wary of political pressure: Under constant pressure from a White House anxious for good news and a public desperate for a silver bullet to end the crisis, the government’s researchers are fearful of political intervention in the coming months and are struggling to ensure that the government maintains the right balance between speed and rigorous regulation, according to interviews with administration officials, federal scientists and outside experts,” the New York Times reports.

In the Media

WHAT ELSE YOU NEED TO KNOW:

They're home.: “NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley completed a fiery, high-speed journey back from the International Space Station on Sunday, splashing down in calm Gulf of Mexico waters off the coast of Pensacola, Fla., hundreds of miles from a churning Tropical Storm Isaias in the Atlantic in a triumphal denouement to a historic mission,” Jacob Bogage and Christian Davenport report.

  • It was a historic mission: “It was the first time in the 59-year history of crewed American space travel that astronauts had used the Gulf as a landing site, adding to other firsts that marked a new chapter in NASA’s human spaceflight program: the first launch of American astronauts to orbit from U.S. soil since the Space Shuttle was retired in 2011 and the first launch into orbit of humans on vehicles owned and operated by a private company.”

Isaias poised to sock East Coast: “Tropical Storm Isaias skirted Florida’s east coast on Sunday, brushing it with occasional gusty showers, and roughing up the surf. But the storm, which has spared the Sunshine State from its most severe weather, is just beginning its tour of the U.S. mainland,” Andrew Freedman and Jason Samenow report.

  • What to expect: “It is set to charge up the entire East Coast, crashing ashore in the Carolinas [tonight], before surging up the rest of the Eastern Seaboard from Virginia to Maine and exiting late Wednesday. Tropical storm warnings and watches stretch from the Florida coast to Long Island, including Norfolk, the Chesapeake Bay area, D.C., Philadelphia, coastal New Jersey, and New York City.”