Don’t count out Duckworth in Biden VP race

When it comes to choosing a vice president, Joe Biden has different reasons for selecting each contender. 

Biden likes Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s (D-Mass.) ideas and proposals. He admires Sen. Kamala Harris’s (D-Calif.) lawyerly straightforwardness and moxie. Susan Rice, President Obama’s former national security adviser, worked alongside him in the White House and Biden has seen her work ethic up close. 

But Sen. Tammy Duckworth represents something close to Biden’s heart: She’s an American hero. 

The Illinois Democrat, a veteran who lost both legs in the Iraq War and received the Purple Heart, is on Biden’s shortlist. And some in Biden World who know the former vice president will say Duckworth is exactly the kind of partner who is well-suited to the former vice president. 

“Anyone who knows him well knows what the United States military means to him,” said one confidant. “And the fact of the matter is, she doesn’t just check the boxes, she has an incredible story and it represents not only who the vice president is at his core but the narrative he’s been talking about since his campaign began.”

“You could very easily see why she’s in contention for this job,” the confidant added. 

Sen. Dick Durbin (D), the senior senator from Illinois, said he supports Duckworth being named Biden’s running mate and added that he has told this to Biden’s team.

“She’s an incredible story, life story,” Durbin said in an interview. “Disabled veteran, amazing determination, who’s remade her life and now serves in the Senate. She is a symbol of success for the disability community. 

“She has a lot of things going for her,” the senator added. “She carries counties in Illinois that I don’t because people respect her military credentials.”

Durbin, who said he knows Duckworth has “been in the mix for awhile” on Biden’s shortlist, noted that “writers and other political leaders” have touted Duckworth to him. 

“A former senator, Democratic senator, contacted me last week and said she’s a great choice,” he added. “She’s a face of the veteran community, disability community, Asian American community. She has a lot of things going for her.” 

Biden, who has committed to selecting a woman as his running mate, said this week he would make a decision next week. 

On Thursday, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) told Yahoo News that he has pushed Biden to pick Duckworth, saying “a war hero would make a terrific vice president of the United States.”

Biden and Duckworth got to know each other after she introduced his late son, Beau, at the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver. She continued to grow closer with both Biden and his wife, Jill, when she worked in the Obama administration as an assistant secretary in the Department of Veterans Affairs as the Bidens became involved in policies and issues concerning veterans. 

Duckworth was named the most effective first-term Democratic senator in the 115th Congress by the Center for Effective Lawmaking, a partnership between Vanderbilt University and the University of Virginia. 

She got three of her 45 sponsored bills signed into law in the last Congress, including the Veteran Small Business Enhancement Act of 2018, which allows veteran-owned small businesses to receive surplus property owned by the federal government.

But Duckworth’s supporters say her life story is much more than her experiences during combat. 

They point out her family was on food stamps when it moved to Hawaii when Duckworth was in high school. She sometimes fainted from hunger in school and saved meals to share with her parents.

Despite such hardships, Duckworth has tried to stay joyful and humorous, which supporters compare to Biden’s reputation as a “happy warrior.”

But she also proved she could battle against President Trump earlier this month after she called the president and conservative television host Tucker Carlson “self-serving, insecure men” after they publicly questioned her patriotism. 

The fight began after Duckworth called for a “national dialogue” over the removal of statues of Founding Fathers including President George Washington, who owned slaves.  

Carlson accused her of being one of the Democrats who “hate America” and later called her a “coward.”

Biden went on the attack, calling it “disgusting, sickening” of Trump and his allies to use such language against Duckworth and a “reflection of the depravity of what’s going on in the White House right now.” 

If she doesn’t make the cut for Biden’s running mate, Democrats say, she will undoubtedly be considered for Cabinet posts. 

“Regardless of how the veepstakes turn out for Sen. Duckworth, I think most Democrats would expect her to be a part of a Biden Cabinet in some way,” said Democratic strategist Joel Payne. “Sen. Duckworth has a very compelling personal narrative, and obviously she is a real-life badass.” 

Durbin added, “I don’t want her to leave the Senate.

“But if she’s going to leave it, let her be vice president,” he said. 

Tags 2020 presidential election Democratic ticket Dick Durbin Donald Trump Elizabeth Warren Joe Biden Tammy Duckworth Tucker Carlson Veepstakes vice president

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