Kat Stafford and Bill Barrow, Associated Press, May 5, 2020
After a devastating start to the Democratic primary, Joe Biden’s campaign was revived when black voters in South Carolina and throughout the South overwhelmingly sided with him. Now that he’s the presumptive Democratic nominee, black voters and leaders are pressing for him to pick a black woman as his running mate.
But black voters and leaders say he needs to go further and pick a black woman. They argue that Biden’s success — and that of the Democratic Party as a whole — depends on black people turning out to vote in November. They want a tangible return for their loyalty, not just a thank you for showing up on Election Day.
“Black people want an acknowledgement of the many years of support they have given the Democratic Party,” said Niambi Carter, a Howard University political science professor.
House Minority Whip Jim Clyburn, whose endorsement in South Carolina was widely credited with helping widen Biden’s winning margin and start his avalanche of March primary victories, said “clearly” he would prefer a black woman. But he insisted he’s not pushing Biden in that direction.
“I’m the father of three grown African American women. So naturally I prefer an African American woman, but it doesn’t have to be,” Clyburn said. “I’ve made that very clear.”
Biden has been unusually vocal about the people he would consider as running mates. He’s referenced two black women, Sen. Kamala Harris of California and Stacey Abrams, the former Democratic nominee for governor in Georgia. Other black women, including Rep. Val Demings of Florida and Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, have also been mentioned.
But Biden is also thought to be considering several white women, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.
Taylor Harrell, the political director for Mothering Justice, a nonprofit that advocates for mothers, said Biden’s choice shouldn’t be all that complicated: Choose a black woman.
“It’s become a cute catchphrase to say ‘trust black women’ or that black women are the backbone of the Democratic Party, so if we’re truly the backbone, being the backbone should essentially mean being the vice president,” Harrell, a Detroit resident, said. “White people have had a voice for so long and having a black woman will allow us to feel like our voices are going to continue to be heard after they’ve been put on pause for these past four years.”