Speaking at a virtual fundraiser, Biden said the process has been underway for several weeks. The former vice president effectively clinched the nomination just last week, when Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) suspended his campaign.
Discussions are underway about the prospect of elevating some White House offices to Cabinet-level positions, Biden said. Among those that will be under consideration for the Cabinet: The Office of Science and Technology Policy; the global health security pandemic office; and a separate climate change operation that “goes beyond the EPA,” he said.
Biden’s campaign has focused heavily on the pandemic in recent weeks, as he has been forced by coronavirus restrictions to live-stream events from his Delaware home, where he installed a video studio in his basement.
Biden said he “would consider announcing some cabinet members before the election,” but clarified that he hasn’t “made that commitment” yet. Still, he signaled that he has a good idea of who would fill the positions.
“If the Lord Almighty said ‘Joe, I tell you what. You have to decide in three hours what your cabinet is or you’re going to be bounced out of the race,’ I could write down who could be in the cabinet,” he said. “There are at least two or three people qualified for every one of those positions.”
Pre-election cabinet announcements would be highly unusual. But the possibility reflects a campaign trying to project competence and preparedness, qualities it hopes will contrast with Trump, who Biden is casting as chaotic and woefully unreliable in moments of crisis.
Biden went further Thursday than he has before in discussing how he would organize his administration. But the creation of his cabinet — and more broadly his view of himself as a transitional figure who can help build the next generation of Democrats — has been on Biden’s mind for a while. During an April 3 virtual fundraiser, he said he was committed to selecting diverse personnel.
“Men, women, gay, straight, center, across the board. Black, white, Asian. It really matters that you look like the country, because everyone brings a slightly different perspective,” Biden said.
Presidents-elect typically tap experienced government hands to help them evolve from candidate to officeholder. During the months before the inauguration, cabinet spots — like secretary of state and attorney general — are normally announced.
Biden would not say who is heading his transition team, but he vowed that those who will take part will be “first rate” and argued there is no shortage of qualified people who could serve.
“I have had literally several hundred serious, serious players who have held positions in every department in the federal government who have said, including some Republicans, who have said if you win, I want to come back. I’m ready to serve,” he said.
The former vice president has yet to select a running mate. He has committed to choosing a woman to join him on the ticket.
When asked whether he believes the public can trust that the November election is held, as expected, Biden replied, “right now they can’t trust that.” He said that the recent Wisconsin primary led him to question how efficiently states can hold elections in the crisis, particularly as Trump has played down the need to transition to mail-in ballots.
For now, he has made the pandemic his central focus. In an appearance on CNN Thursday night, Biden dismissed Trump’s guidelines for reopening the country as “not a plan” and mostly focused on criticizing the White House over coronavirus testing.
Matt Viser and Colby Itkowitz contributed to this report.