Warren top choice for VP for some Black progressives

Some Black progressives are calling for Joe Biden to pick Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) as his running mate, even as the Biden campaign faces pressure to select a woman of color. 

Progressives making the case for Warren say her experience and policy ideas make her the best choice. 

“Among the serious contenders, I do feel like she is the best option,” said Jorden Giger, a Black Lives Matter organizer in South Bend, Ind. “She has a plan for a lot of things that matter, and she seems to be ready to go on day one given her breadth of experience.” 

Others making the case for Warren acknowledge the desire for a Black woman to be Biden’s running mate but argue that Warren is best positioned to champion the kinds of changes demanded by the Black Lives Matter movement.

“Folks are saying we need a Black woman, and I understand where they’re coming from,” said Angela Peoples, the director of the organizing group Black Womxn For and creative digital firm The South.

“But what’s most important and what needs to be prioritized is leadership that is committed and is pushing for these big structural shifts in our country and people who are rooted and listening to our community,” Peoples said.

The Hill talked to a half dozen Black progressive activists and operatives who are supportive of Warren for vice president.

“She has had one of the most progressive agendas for Black people,” said one political operative, who asked to speak on background because she did not want to be seen publicly taking a side on whom Biden should pick. “All of her plans from criminal justice to child care and the economy have a racial lens, and that’s not by accident.”

Warren, Peoples said, “lifted up race” across issues from education to housing and in businesses.

“There are Black mayors of cities where the police have bloated budgets and are doubling down on their stop-and-frisk policies,” Peoples said, adding that “simply having a Black person in leadership is not going to be enough to change the circumstances and get people what they need.”

The killing of George Floyd at the hands of police last month, which led to second-degree murder charges against one officer, has radically changed the debate over Biden’s pick. 

The former vice president, who previously committed to picking a woman for his running mate, is now facing new calls to pick a woman of color. Biden’s success in the Democratic primary is also largely because of Black voters — and Black women voters. 

Contenders for the spot include Sen. Kamala Harris (Calif.), who like Warren was once a rival to Biden for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination. 

Others under consideration include former national security adviser Susan Rice, Rep. Val Demings (D-Fla.), former Georgia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacy Abrams and Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms (D), all of whom are African American. 

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D), Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) and Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) have also seen their names floated.

After Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) pulled herself from consideration last week and said Biden should pick a black woman, she came under some criticism. 

“Interesting that @amyklobuchar thinks @JoeBiden should choose a woman of color now that SHE is no longer in contention for the VP slot,” actress Yvette Nicole Brown wrote on Twitter. “She must know that @ewarren … [is] still in contention. We SEE you, Amy. We ALL see you.” 

To be sure, a number of Black lawmakers and activists say it’s important for Biden to pick a Black woman as his running mate. 

In April, 200 Black female leaders and activists penned an open letter urging Biden to choose a Black woman, saying that “the road to the White House is powered by Black women and Black women are the key to a Democratic victory in 2020.”

“We urge you to seize this historic opportunity to choose a Black woman running mate who will fight for the issues that matter most to the American people and help deliver a decisive victory and a successful Biden presidency,” the letter stated.

“We’ve never had a Black woman on the ticket, and we need to stop acting like they’re not qualified,” the Rev. Al Sharpton said last month in an interview with CBS 46 in Atlanta. “And he could really energize the Black community, I think, which he’s going to need. He’s going to need to turn out record numbers.” 

Democratic strategist Jamal Simmons said both Harris and Warren are eminently qualified and ready to be president.

Still, Simmons added that “in today’s political moment, I’d give Harris the edge.” 

“But if Biden didn’t choose a Black woman, Warren is the candidate I think Black voters would support the most,” he added.   

Warren has joined in three protests, including one at the White House, since Floyd’s death. She also held a conversation late last month about how to hold police accountable and participated in a town hall alongside the Rev. Jesse Jackson on action that can be taken against police brutality. Warren has introduced legislation that would hold police officers liable for denying medical care to people in custody. 

A CBS News poll that was released before the nationwide protests sparked by Floyd’s killing showed that 72 percent of registered Black voters said Biden should consider Warren for vice president. Sixty-one percent of the group said Biden should consider Abrams, while 60 percent said he should consider Harris.

Peoples said Black voters support Warren because she has shown she understands their problems. 

“She not only gets it but is willing to be at the forefront saying uncomfortable things in a way that other candidates have not been,” she said.

Tags 2020 democratic presidential campaign 2020 presidential election Amy Klobuchar Black Lives Matter Elizabeth Warren Joe Biden Michelle Lujan Grisham Tammy Baldwin Val Demings
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