Democrats want Biden to go early with VP pick

Greg Nash

Democrats are pushing Joe Biden to select his running mate sooner rather than later, saying this would give him more time to raise funds and unite the Democratic Party ahead of the general election fight against President Trump. 

Presumptive Democratic nominees typically announce their pick before the party’s convention. But with the coronavirus pandemic sidelining the campaign and pushing back the Democratic convention from July to August, Democrats say an early pick could boost Biden. 

Democratic strategist Michael Trujillo said he’s all for an early announcement because it would “give the Biden campaign an infusion of campaign donations” and double the campaign team’s power.

“She can help raise more money, get activists engaged, do one-on-one interviews in key media markets and build more enthusiasm for the ticket immediately,” Trujillo said of Biden’s potential running mate, who the former vice president has said will be a woman. 

Democratic strategist Adam Parkhomenko, who served as an aide on Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, said “it makes a lot of sense to go earlier than later.” 

“People keep saying they’re not hearing from the Biden campaign lately,” Parkhomenko said. “This is something they could do to help break through.” 

He stressed that the Biden campaign is “going to have to be creative” in how they roll out a vice presidential pick to make sure it does provide a needed boost to his campaign. 

In an appearance on CBS’s “The Late Late Show with James Corden” early Wednesday morning, Biden predicted the selection process for his running mate will “take until sometime in July” to winnow the process down to “the one, two, three people.”

Sources close to the campaign say the process is in the early stages, noting that advisers are not in the same room and that people are working remotely to set up a secure vetting process. 

Not every Democrat thinks Biden needs to worry about moving fast with a VP pick. 

“The Vice President is doing pretty damn well under the circumstances, so what needs to be fixed?” asked Philippe Reines, a longtime adviser to Clinton. 

If Biden were to pick “a superstar online fundraiser” such as Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.), that would be a reason to go early with the pick, Reines said. Trump has a big fundraising edge on Biden as things stand, and many do not believe the former vice president can catch up. 

“He needs money,” one Democratic bundler said. “And he needs a lot of it. Anything that helps move the needle is valuable. And the more time, the more money.” 

Democratic strategist Eddie Vale said he would lean toward a traditional approach. But he conceded that if the coronavirus pandemic stretches into the summer or pushes the convention online, it would be a reason for Biden to go early with the VP selection. 

“[It] could be worth thinking about trying to do a slightly earlier and different digital VP rollout to try and get some more coverage to make up for a lack of convention,” he said. 

Democratic strategist Chris Lehane, who served as a campaign aide to both Al Gore and John Kerry during their presidential bids, said he would be pushing to announce the pick sooner. 

For starters, he said, it moves the dial because “this is going to be a time where voters will value the ‘presidential decision making’ differently by discerning whether this is a pick who makes the team materially better in terms of dealing with a historic crisis.” 

Lehane also said it would be a way for Biden to get media coverage. 

“I would produce this like it was a 10 episode Netflix series with surround sound on social media that allows Biden to really occupy media real estate and drive the message, create momentum [and] generate interest,” said Lehane, who referenced ESPN’s 10-part documentary on Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls. 

“In a world devoid of live entertainment where people are shut in their homes and desperate for information, there is a huge opportunity to take something and rethink about how it could be adapted and deployed for the current times,” he said. “If there was ever a time to rethink the approach so as to help define and animate the candidacy, electorally position the campaign, and own the conversation by generating ratings, it is now. 

“Biden could even call this The First Dance,” he quipped. 

Tags Al Gore Coronavirus Donald Trump Elizabeth Warren Hillary Clinton Joe Biden John Kerry

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