For Newsom and California, there's a lot more riding on Biden's decision than who becomes vice president

For Newsom and California, there's a lot more riding on Biden's decision than who becomes vice president

8/6/2020 1:03:00 PM

For Newsom and California, there's a lot more riding on Biden's decision than who becomes vice president

If Joe Biden chooses a short-listed Californian as his running mate — Sen. Kamala Harris or Rep. Karen Bass — the decision will have a significant impact on politics in the state.

More CoverageKaren Bass surged up Biden’s VP list. Is she ready for the national stage?Rice, 55, would be a good choice. The diplomat served in both the Clinton and Obama administrations in high-level foreign policy positions. She was Obama’s U.S. ambassador to the United Nations before becoming national security advisor. Biden got to know her well when he was Obama’s vice president.

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AdvertisementRice certainly would be hammered by President Trump for initially mislabeling the 2012 attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi. She called it spontaneous, although it turned out to be a planned terrorist assault. But Trump will pounce on whomever Biden picks.

One drawback: Rice has never run for public office. She could flub up on the campaign trail. But she has operated successfully on the world stage and is classy.Bass, 66, is very likable and evokes a positive attitude, is a liberal who can deal productively with Republicans —

she initially proved that as California Assembly speaker— and has been a civil rights fighter all her career.But she’s relatively unknown, including to Biden. And she has never run for office outside her district, so there’s some question about how she’d fare in a bruising national campaign. I suspect darn well.

AdvertisementHarris, 55, is charismatic and can deliver a stinging campaign punch — Biden was stung by her in an early presidential debate. But she flopped running for president. And she carries baggage from unremarkable — critics say disappointing — stints as state attorney general and San Francisco district attorney.

But Biden is apparently drawn to Harris because she and his late son, Beau, had a strong alliance when both were state attorneys general.Many political pros think Biden would be crazy to put any Californian on the ticket.“He’d be well advised not to pick a Californian,” says Darry Sragow, a veteran Democratic strategist who publishes the nonpartisan California Target Book, which handicaps congressional and legislative races.

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