In an interview on the debut episode of “The ReidOut” on MSNBC, host Joy Reid asked Biden whether he is committed to picking a black woman — prompting a swift rejection from the former vice president.
“I am not committed to naming any but the people I’ve named, and among them there are four black women. So, that decision is underway right now,” Biden said. He announced months ago that his running mate will be a woman.
Biden said the detailed vetting of potential running mates “is just being finished” and he is “having a two-hour vetting report” from those tasked with examining the candidates’ backgrounds.
“We’ve gone through about four candidates so far,” Biden said. When that process concludes, he said, he will “narrow the list” and have “personal discussions with each of the candidates who are left and make a decision.”
Biden has faced intensifying pressure from allies recently to choose an African American woman, with some arguing that the recent national reckoning with racism and police violence has created more urgency for him to do so.
In recent weeks, Biden’s search has zeroed in on a group that includes five black women — Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.), Rep. Val Demings (D-Fla.), former national security adviser Susan E. Rice, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.) — according to people with knowledge of the situation.
Former Georgia gubernatorial nominee and state House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams, who is African American, has shown strong interest in the job. But she has drawn skepticism from Biden allies.
Biden’s team has also considered candidates who are not African American, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), who is white, Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), who is Asian American, and New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, who is Latino.
Harris has been seen by many Biden allies as the favorite, but people with knowledge of the search have cautioned that it remains fluid.
Bottoms announced earlier this month that she had tested positive for the novel coronavirus but had no symptoms.
During the MSNBC interview, Biden defended his support from black women, saying that they “have supported me my entire career.” He added, “You all act like all of a sudden there was an epiphany in South Carolina,” referring to the primary that launched his comeback in the Democratic nominating contest.
Monday’s comments were the latest example of the unusually public nature of Biden’s search — with contenders such as Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) publicly removing themselves from consideration and Biden occasionally dropping hints about his search or the names of those he is considering.