SPONSORED:

Democrats lobby Biden on VP choice

Rep. Lois FrankelLois Jane FrankelHow Congress dismissed women's empowerment Frankel defeats Loomer in Florida House race Live updates: Democrats seek to extend House advantage MORE (D-Fla.), co-chairwoman of the Women’s Caucus, is pushing her home-state colleague, Rep. Val DemingsValdez (Val) Venita DemingsSeven Senate races to watch in 2022 Demings on Florida: 'We're excited about what we're seeing' but 'taking absolutely nothing for granted' Why it's time for a majority female Cabinet MORE, for vice president.

Rep. Wm. Lacy ClayWilliam (Lacy) Lacy ClayRep. Bush calls Trump a 'white supremacist president' on House floor Democrats introduce legislation to strike slavery exception in 13th Amendment 'It's not a slogan': Progressives push back on Obama's comments on 'defund the police' movement MORE (D-Mo.) wants presumptive Democratic presidential nominee and former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenAzar in departure letter says Capitol riot threatens to 'tarnish' administration's accomplishments House Democrats introduce measures to oppose Trump's bomb sale to Saudis On The Money: Retail sales drop in latest sign of weakening economy | Fast-food workers strike for minimum wage | US officials raise concerns over Mexico's handling of energy permits 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 Morning Report - Biden asks Congress to expand largest relief response in U.S. history Rep. Adriano Espaillat tests positive for COVID-19 ER doctor chosen to lead Hispanic Caucus 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 MastoWhy are millions still flowing into the presidential inauguration? Transition of power: Greatness meets infamy Overnight Defense: Pelosi confers with top general on preventing Trump nuclear strike | Biden fills out his national security team MORE (D-Nev.), Rep. Veronica EscobarVeronica EscobarHouse Judiciary Democrats ask Pence to invoke 25th Amendment to remove Trump 7 surprise moments from a tumultuous year in politics House Democrats push Biden's Pentagon pick on civilian control of military MORE (D-Texas) or Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisOn The Money: Retail sales drop in latest sign of weakening economy | Fast-food workers strike for minimum wage | US officials raise concerns over Mexico's handling of energy permits Biden scolds Republicans for not wearing masks during Capitol attack Biden and the new Congress must protect Americans from utility shutoffs MORE (D-Calif.).

ADVERTISEMENT

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 WarrenPorter loses seat on House panel overseeing financial sector OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Nine, including former Michigan governor, charged over Flint water crisis | Regulator finalizes rule forcing banks to serve oil, gun companies | Trump admin adds hurdle to increase efficiency standards for furnaces, water heaters DeVos mulled unilateral student loan forgiveness as COVID-19 wracked economy: memo 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 PelosiDemocrats point fingers on whether Capitol rioters had inside help Pelosi suggests criminal charges for any lawmaker who helped with Capitol riot Pelosi mum on when House will send impeachment article to Senate MORE (D-Calif.) tapped her as one of seven House prosecutors in President TrumpDonald TrumpCIA chief threatened to resign over push to install Trump loyalist as deputy: report Azar in departure letter says Capitol riot threatens to 'tarnish' administration's accomplishments Justice Dept. argues Trump should get immunity from rape accuser's lawsuit MORE’s impeachment trial.

ADVERTISEMENT

“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 PhillipsDemocrats poised to impeach Trump again Capitol Police say reports of officer's death are wrong Pro-Trump mob overruns Capitol, forcing evacuation MORE (D-Minn.) is advocating for his own home-state pick, Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharGoogle completes Fitbit acquisition Hillicon Valley: Fringe social networks boosted after Capitol attack | Planned protests spark fears of violence in Trump's final days | Election security efforts likely to gain ground in Democrat-controlled Congress US Chamber of Commerce to stop supporting some lawmakers following the Capitol riots MORE. He says the former presidential candidate would be a “powerful” VP pick from America’s heartland.

Minority Whip Dick DurbinDick DurbinDemocrats looking to speed through Senate impeachment trial Schumer says Democrats will probe extremist groups after Capitol attack Trump's legacy is discord and division MORE, the senior senator from Illinois, has been touting Tammy DuckworthLadda (Tammy) Tammy DuckworthBiden taps Atlanta mayor for senior DNC role The best way to handle veterans, active-duty military that participated in Capitol riot Overnight Defense: National Guard boosts DC presence ahead of inauguration | Lawmakers demand probes into troops' role in Capitol riot | Financial disclosures released for Biden Pentagon nominee 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 RichmondPelosi to seat Iowa Republican as Democratic challenger contests election results Louisiana Rep.-elect Luke Letlow dies of COVID-19 Biden Interior nominee discusses environmental injustice with tribal leaders 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.

ADVERTISEMENT

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 Sanders'Almost Heaven, West Virginia' — Joe Manchin and a 50-50 Senate Biden to seek minimum wage in COVID-19 proposal Former Sanders spokesperson: Progressives 'shouldn't lose sight' of struggling Americans during pandemic MORE and Elizabeth Warren, and we’ve got to make sure those people turn out,” Rep. Jamie RaskinJamin (Jamie) Ben RaskinHouse impeaches Trump for second time — with some GOP support Washington state rep joins list of Republicans voting to impeach Trump The Hill's Morning Report - How many Republicans will vote for Trump's impeachment? MORE (D-Md.), a leading progressive who backed Warren in the primary, told The Hill.

Rep. Ro KhannaRohit (Ro) KhannaHouse Democrats introduce measures to oppose Trump's bomb sale to Saudis House impeaches Trump for second time — with some GOP support Stacey Abrams gets kudos for work in Georgia runoff election 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.

ADVERTISEMENT

“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 to levy fines on maskless lawmakers on House floor Growing number of lawmakers test positive for COVID-19 after Capitol siege Democrats offer bill fining lawmakers who don't wear masks in Capitol 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 GrishamNew Mexico fines two megachurches K each over packed Christmas Eve services CHC urges Biden to choose Latinos to head Education Department, SBA: report Hispanic Caucus ramps up Cabinet pressure campaign 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.”