Democrats lobby Biden on VP choice

Rep. Lois FrankelLois Jane FrankelHouse members race to prepare for first-ever remote votes The Hill's 12:30 Report: Pence visits Orlando as all 50 states reopen The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Mnuchin, Powell: Economy may need more boost; Trump defends malaria drug MORE (D-Fla.), co-chairwoman of the Women’s Caucus, is pushing her home-state colleague, Rep. Val DemingsValdez (Val) Venita DemingsThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - US death toll nears 100,000 as country grapples with reopening Demings 'concerned' over theme park openings in Florida Demings hits Trump for campaigning off Biden 'you ain't black' comments MORE, for vice president.

Rep. Wm. Lacy ClayWilliam (Lacy) Lacy ClayThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Pence visits Orlando as all 50 states reopen The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Mnuchin, Powell: Economy may need more boost; Trump defends malaria drug Democrats lobby Biden on VP choice MORE (D-Mo.) wants presumptive Democratic presidential nominee and former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Americans debate life under COVID-19 risks Biden set to make risky economic argument against Trump Hillicon Valley: Tech companies lead way on WFH forever | States and counties plead for cybersecurity assistance | Trump weighing anti-conservative bias panel MORE to select Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan, who Clay believes would help Democrats win the all-important swing state — and the White House.

Rep. Adriano EspaillatAdriano de Jesus Espaillat CabralThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Pence visits Orlando as all 50 states reopen The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Mnuchin, Powell: Economy may need more boost; Trump defends malaria drug Democrats lobby Biden on VP choice MORE (D-N.Y.), a Hispanic Caucus member, said it’s critical that Democrats have a strong woman of color on the ticket, someone like Sen. Catherine Cortez MastoCatherine Marie Cortez MastoThe Memo: Activists press Biden on VP choice Demings says she's on Biden's VP short list The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Mnuchin, Powell: Economy may need more boost; Trump defends malaria drug MORE (D-Nev.), Rep. Veronica EscobarVeronica EscobarThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Pence visits Orlando as all 50 states reopen The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Mnuchin, Powell: Economy may need more boost; Trump defends malaria drug Democrats lobby Biden on VP choice MORE (D-Texas) or Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisTrump retweets personal attacks on Clinton, Pelosi, Abrams It's as if a Trump operative infiltrated the Democratic primary process OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Coal company sues EPA over power plant pollution regulation | Automakers fight effort to freeze fuel efficiency standards | EPA watchdog may probe agency's response to California water issues MORE (D-Calif.).

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Once bitterly divided over the crowded, raucous 2020 presidential primary, progressives and centrists, insurgents and establishment Democrats are now unified behind Biden, and they’re cheering his pledge to pick a woman as his running mate this summer.

They just can’t agree on who that woman should be.

While Democratic polls show two former presidential hopefuls — Sens. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenPentagon charts its own course on COVID-19, risking Trump's ire Warren to host high-dollar fundraiser for Biden It's as if a Trump operative infiltrated the Democratic primary process MORE (D-Mass.) and Harris — lead the pack to be Biden’s pick, opinions are all over the map on Capitol Hill, especially in the most diverse House Democratic Caucus in history.

Frankel is among a group of lawmakers pushing for Demings, who is African American and became the first female police chief in Orlando in 2007.

She’s honed her foreign-policy chops while serving on the House Homeland Security and Intelligence committees, and stepped out on the national stage in January after Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiBottom line This week: Surveillance fight sets early test for House's proxy voting Women suffering steeper job losses in COVID-19 economy MORE (D-Calif.) tapped her as one of seven House prosecutors in President TrumpDonald John TrumpMulvaney: 'We've overreacted a little bit' to coronavirus Former CBS News president: Most major cable news outlets 'unrelentingly liberal' in 'fear and loathing' of Trump An old man like me should be made more vulnerable to death by COVID-19 MORE’s impeachment trial.

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“We knew she was ready for prime time when we saw her as an impeachment manager, so she checks off a lot of boxes,” Frankel said, “and for me as a Floridian, it would be great to have somebody from Florida.”

Rep. Dean PhillipsDean PhillipsBipartisan senators introduce bill to make changes to the Paycheck Protection Program The Memo: Activists press Biden on VP choice Biden asks Klobuchar to undergo vetting as potential running mate MORE (D-Minn.) is advocating for his own home-state pick, Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharPoll: Biden leads Trump by 5 points in Minnesota The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - US death toll nears 100,000 as country grapples with reopening It's as if a Trump operative infiltrated the Democratic primary process MORE. He says the former presidential candidate would be a “powerful” VP pick from America’s heartland.

Minority Whip Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinSenators weigh traveling amid coronavirus ahead of Memorial Day Congress headed toward unemployment showdown Senate to try to pass fix for Paycheck Protection Program Thursday MORE, the senior senator from Illinois, has been touting Tammy DuckworthLadda (Tammy) Tammy DuckworthABC's Whoopi Goldberg to headline Biden fundraiser with Sen. Tammy Duckworth House Democrat to introduce legislation allowing governors to extend National Guard deployments The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Mnuchin, Powell: Economy may need more boost; Trump defends malaria drug MORE, the state’s junior senator. The decorated, double-amputee Iraq War veteran is expected to interview with Biden’s team in the coming days, Durbin said.

It’s unclear how much sway any of these lawmakers have with Biden, who is expected to make his decision in July. Some like Durbin served in the Senate with the former Foreign Relations Committee chairman for years. Others, including Rep. Cedric RichmondCedric Levon RichmondStates plead for cybersecurity funds as hacking threat surges Democrats lobby Biden on VP choice Bottom line MORE (D-La.), national co-chairman of Biden’s 2020 campaign, are part of the Biden inner circle and speak to him regularly. But Richmond, a former Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) chairman who secured countless endorsements for Biden, said the two men have not discussed the subject.

“The truth is we haven’t talked about it at all. I’m letting the committee do their interviews and their work,” Richmond told The Hill in a brief interview.

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That committee would be Biden’s vice presidential vetting committee, which includes former Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, and Biden’s home-state congresswoman, Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-Del.), another Black Caucus member. Biden has said the panel is looking at “more than a dozen” potential running mates, including Whitmer, Demings, Duckworth and former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams.

“I’ve had a conversation with some folks. … It was just an opening conversation,” Whitmer said Tuesday on NBC’s “Today” show.

For many Hill Democrats, ousting Trump and taking back the White House is the only thing that matters this November. The vice presidential pick, they argue, can help energize the base and propel the party to victory. With that in mind, some lawmakers say Biden — who won the nomination by running in the party’s moderate lane — needs to balance the ticket with a popular progressive like Warren.

“We’ve got to win the election, and there are tens of millions of progressives who are with Bernie SandersBernie SandersHillicon Valley: Tech companies lead way on WFH forever | States and counties plead for cybersecurity assistance | Trump weighing anti-conservative bias panel Biden wins Hawaii primary Warren to host high-dollar fundraiser for Biden MORE and Elizabeth Warren, and we’ve got to make sure those people turn out,” Rep. Jamie RaskinJamin (Jamie) Ben RaskinHouse members race to prepare for first-ever remote votes Merger moratorium takes center stage in antitrust debate Democrats lobby Biden on VP choice MORE (D-Md.), a leading progressive who backed Warren in the primary, told The Hill.

Rep. Ro KhannaRohit (Ro) KhannaHouse members race to prepare for first-ever remote votes Remote working takes off for Twitter, Facebook, tech companies Democrats lobby Biden on VP choice MORE (D-Calif.), who served as Sanders’s national campaign co-chairman, has also been trying to sell Biden World on the idea of a Biden-Warren ticket. Warren has made economic inequality the centerpiece of her presidential campaign and political career; her voice and ideas would be critical as a future Biden administration responds to the economic crisis spurred by the coronavirus pandemic, Khanna said.

“I think it’s an obvious choice that Sen. Warren would be that partner,” Khanna told reporters recently. “I don’t have the standing to tell them what to do, but I’ve made the case for why I think this would be a strong choice.”

But asked about Warren, Clay, an establishment Democratic lawmaker, replied, “Let’s not get caught up in fantasies. Let’s focus on winning.”

Clay, a CBC member, called Harris of California “a brilliant African American female who has had success running statewide in the most populous state in the country,” but he also is not insisting that Biden choose a black running mate.

“I would be in favor of someone like Gretchen Whitmer, the governor of Michigan, where we have to win Michigan,” Clay told The Hill. “It don’t have to be a black woman. Strategically, we want to win battleground states, so let’s be practical about this.”

Other senior CBC members agree with that sentiment. House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.), whose endorsement is credited with propelling Biden to victory in the South Carolina primary and to the Democratic nomination, said it’s “not a must” for Biden to select a black woman.

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“I would love it, but I’ve said the criteria all along: It has to be somebody that he meshes with, it has to be somebody he trusts, it has to be somebody who can be president on Day One,” said Richmond, Biden’s national campaign co-chair.

Rep. Anthony BrownAnthony Gregory BrownDemocrats lobby Biden on VP choice Democrats try to force McConnell's hand on coronavirus aid Aides expect Schumer, Mnuchin to reach deal on coronavirus relief MORE (D-Md.), another CBC member who served as lieutenant governor of his state, said Biden’s commitment to appoint an African American woman to the Supreme Court is “quite frankly” a “more important appointment because it’s for a lifetime.”

However, not all Democrats are ready to give Biden a free pass. Espaillat, the first Dominican American member of Congress, said balancing the ticket with a diverse pick would help turn out minority voters in the fall.

“I think it should be a Latino or African American woman,” said Espaillat, rattling off the names of Harris, Cortez Masto, Escobar and New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan GrishamMichelle Lynn Lujan GrishamTop New Mexico tourism official says mass gatherings may not be possible for 18 months The Memo: Activists press Biden on VP choice New Mexico's governor blasts state GOP for 'reckless demand' to reopen MORE, his former House colleague.

“Elizabeth Warren, she would be great too,” he said, “but I think a woman of color would be a slam dunk.”