Biden told to think economy with VP pick

Joe BidenJoe BidenTrump says Biden has been 'brainwashed': 'He's been taken over by the radical left' Trump says he'll wear mask during upcoming trip to Walter Reed Latino group 'Mi Familia Vota' launches M voter turnout campaign targeting swing states MORE is being advised by some Democrats to select a running mate with strong economic credentials as the country faces a steep climb out of a coronavirus-fueled recession, according to sources close to the campaign. 

The crisis has raised the stock of politicians who were already seen as potential veeps to Biden, such as Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenThe Hill's Campaign Report: Democratic Unity Taskforce unveils party platform recommendations Progressive activist Ady Barkan endorses Biden, urges him to pick Warren as VP Congress must act now to fix a Social Security COVID-19 glitch and expand, not cut, benefits MORE (Mass.) and Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D).

Warren’s area of expertise is the economy; the former Harvard professor first became a national name in politics as the chair of the oversight panel for the federal bailout program from 2008 — the last time the country went through a recession.


Whitmer is now leading her state through the coronavirus pandemic, which has shuttered businesses and led to 22 million new filings for unemployment.

Even if the economy does begin to revive over the summer and fall, whoever is elected in November will have to navigate the country through a difficult recovery for months.

“The economic recovery is going to be the biggest story for months and even years to come,” said one source who has discussed the issue with campaign aides. “Joe needs someone who knows their stuff in this area.”

“He needs someone who knows what she’s doing,” the source added. 

Biden has committed to selecting a woman as his running mate, and his campaign is considering a wide swath of candidates even as they’ve narrowed the search to candidates who meet two major requirements: their ability to step in and be president and someone with whom he feels comfortable. 

The former vice president has noted his own experience working with former President Obama in outlining what he’ll be searching for in a running mate. He’s suggested comfort and an ability to see eye-to-eye on the issues will be critical.


“The reason why it worked for Barack and me so well is we agreed substantively on every major issue,” he told a recent group of donors at a virtual fundraiser. “So it’s going to be important that whomever I pick is completely comfortable with my policy prescriptions, as to how we move forward.”

Sources close to the campaign say Biden is just beginning the selection effort this month while trying to iron out the particulars of conducting a vetting process while his team is separated.

“Normally this kind of thing is done at a law firm somewhere,” said one Biden aide. “They’re trying to figure out how things can be done efficiently and securely.” 

Biden allies say Whitmer’s stock has continued to rise internally in recent weeks.

“They see eye-to-eye on so much,” said one longtime ally who has spoken to the former vice president and his team. “They’re both folksy.” 

“When he talks about someone he feels comfortable with, I think a lot of people instantly think of her,” the ally said.

Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisCensus workers prepare to go door-knocking in pandemic Democrats awash with cash in battle for Senate Tammy Duckworth hits back at Tucker Carlson: 'Walk a mile in my legs' MORE (D-Calif.) is another name that Biden and his team are considering.

Harris would appeal to people like House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.), who helped Biden turn his campaign around and would like to see him pick a black woman.  

If Biden does decide to lean heavily toward a background in the economy in making his pick, that could be an issue for Harris, a former attorney general in her state. One ally who has spoken to campaign officials in recent weeks said one concern about Harris is "she doesn’t have a strong economic background.”

Other political observers say that shouldn’t matter much in selecting a running mate. 

“There are two kinds of leaders who can be effective under the current circumstances: One, leaders who have the chops themselves and two, leaders who can recognize good advice when they hear it,” said William Galston, a senior fellow of governance studies at the Brookings Institution who served as a policy adviser to former President Clinton during his administration. 

Galston said if he had to pick, he would choose the latter.


“I say that because if you have great economic chops you may be inclined to trust yourself a little too much and it may be difficult to hear the advice of others,” he said. 

Biden is a former chairman of the Judiciary and Foreign Affairs committees in the Senate. But in the Obama administration, he helped oversee the economic stimulus policies and negotiated budgetary and financial deals on behalf of Obama with Congress.

“I don’t think anyone would say Joe Biden has fantastic economic chops, but he was quite effective because he had competent people around him and he didn’t think he was the smartest guy in the room,” Galston said.

Democratic strategist Kenneth Baer, who served as a senior adviser in the Obama White House’s Office of Management and Budget, said more than anything, “Biden needs to pick someone who credibly can step into his shoes if needed.

“Knowing economic policy is part of that, but overall, that expertise can be gotten from smart staff and Cabinet picks,” he said.

But as the pandemic has changed lives across the country, said Democratic strategist Patti Solis Doyle, who served as campaign manager for Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonTrump to visit Georgia next week Former NY Rep. Claudia Tenney to face Anthony Brindisi in House rematch Powell takes on Trump over Confederate flag MORE's 2008 presidential campaign, "the idea of someone who can confront the challenges that this time calls for is the most important qualification."

Bringing on a running mate with an economic background "would be very smart," she added.