Former Vice President Joe Biden formally began the process of selecting a running mate on Thursday morning, releasing the names of former and current Democratic officials who will lead his search for a vice presidential candidate, who Biden has said will be a woman.
Former Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd, Delaware Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and Cynthia C. Hogan, a top aide to Biden in the Senate and White House, will lead the search over the coming months.
"Selecting a vice presidential candidate is one of the most important decisions in a presidential campaign and no one knows this more than Joe Biden," campaign manager Jen O'Malley Dillon said in a statement. "These four co-chairs reflect the strength and diversity of our party, and will provide tremendous insight and expertise to what will be a rigorous selection and vetting process. We are grateful for their service to the campaign and for their leadership."
The team will also include what's described as "a network of vetting teams" working under former Obama White House counsel Bob Bauer, Biden campaign general counsel Dana Remus and former Obama homeland security adviser Lisa Monaco.
Biden's pledge to pick a woman as his running mate intensified speculation since his path to the Democratic nomination became clear. Several potential candidates have addressed the prospect in interviews in recent weeks.
Biden said he would consider California Sen. Kamala Harris as his running mate just one day after she ended her own bid for president late last year. A Biden-Harris ticket has the potential to increase turnout and support among black voters. While Biden praised Harris' efforts after she dropped out in December and she has campaigned on his behalf, the two famously sparred in the first Democratic primary debate when Harris criticized Biden's past stance on school busing, an issue that had affected Harris personally.
When asked in an interview on April 16 whether she would accept an offer to be Biden's running mate, Harris stressed that her focus is on fighting COVID-19 while adding, "Obviously, I'd be honored to serve with Joe."
Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren has also been floated and would be one of the most progressive choices for Biden. Biden and Warren have not seen eye to eye on a number of issues — notably clashing on bankruptcy policy 15 years ago, though Biden has since endorsed Warren's bankruptcy reform plan. Warren is also a supporter of "Medicare for All," a key progressive policy priority that Biden does not support. As a running mate, Warren has the potential to bring in more liberal voters who may be wary of Biden's record as a centrist.
On April 15, Warren said on MSNBC that she would accept the offer to be Biden's running mate. When asked in another interview on the network about the prospects of an all-white ticket, Warren responded, "That is a decision that will be up to the vice president."
Former Georgia Democratic gubernatorial nominee Stacey Abrams is another possible contender. Abrams is seen as someone who could boost voter turnout among black voters and progressives, especially considering black voters in Georgia turned out at a higher rate for her 2018 campaign than in the 2016 general election. Abrams has focused on addressing voter suppression through her organization Fair Fight Action since her campaign ended. One of Abrams' biggest potential drawbacks is that she does not have any federal experience.
Abrams has been the most vocal about her interest in being Biden's running mate over the past weeks. "I would be an excellent running mate," Abrams first said in an interview with Elle magazine published earlier this month.
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has become one of the most frequently mentioned picks because of her rising profile governing a state at the center of the COVID-19 pandemic. In her 2018 race, Whitmer won in nine counties that voted for President Trump in 2016.
As Biden faces an allegation of sexual assault, which his campaign denies, Whitmer has been open about her own experience as a sexual assault survivor. In an interview with NPR on April 14, Whitmer chose not to voice her outright opinion on the accusation by a former Biden Senate staffer named Tara Reade. "It is something that no one takes lightly," she said.
Other possible running mates, including Abrams and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who also ran for president this year, have been asked about the allegation and voiced support for Biden.
When asked about the prospect of being Biden's running mate, Whitmer told NPR that she's focusing on her current role, but leaving the door open. "It's absolutely flattering to be considered among a massive group of women leaders across the nation," she said.
Conversations about representation in the Democratic Party have become more frequent in recent years and many in the party have explicitly called on Biden to choose a woman of color for the ticket. One of Biden's search committee co-chairs, Rochester, was the first person of color and first woman ever elected to Congress from Biden's home state of Delaware.
Several other Democrats have been rumored as potential picks for Biden, including Nevada Sen. Catherine Cortez-Masto, New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and Florida Rep. Val Demings, all women of color.