SPONSORED:

Police killing in Minneapolis puts new scrutiny on Biden pick

The killing by police of an unarmed black man in Minneapolis has aimed the national spotlight at systemic racism in America. It’s also added pressure on Joe BidenJoe BidenFacebook, Twitter CEOs to testify before Senate Judiciary Committee on Nov. 17 Sanders hits back at Trump's attack on 'socialized medicine' Senate GOP to drop documentary series days before election hitting China, Democrats over coronavirus MORE to pick an African American running mate. 

George Floyd’s death after a police officer put his knee to Floyd’s neck while pinning him to the ground closely followed the killing of another black man, 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery, who was fatally shot while jogging in Georgia after a confrontation with two white men.

Both incidents broke through the coronavirus pandemic to make headlines and capture national attention, while underscoring a growing sense that there are two Americas with seemingly different forms of justice for black and white people.

ADVERTISEMENT

The killings come at a sensitive time for Biden, whose off-hand remark last week that African Americans “ain’t black” if they vote for President TrumpDonald John TrumpIvanka Trump, Jared Kusher's lawyer threatens to sue Lincoln Project over Times Square billboards Facebook, Twitter CEOs to testify before Senate Judiciary Committee on Nov. 17 Sanders hits back at Trump's attack on 'socialized medicine' MORE sparked controversy over whether he was taking black voters for granted.

Some House lawmakers are actively calling on Biden, who has previously said he would pick a woman to be his running mate, to select an African American.  

“We want people to not take our votes for granted and to work actively and urgently to address some of the issues that persist in our communities,” Rep. Ilhan OmarIlhan OmarProgressive lawmakers call for United Nations probe into DHS 'human rights abuses' Ocasio-Cortez hits Trump for 'disrespect' over calling her AOC during debates Trump says he doesn't actually want Whitmer, Biden and Obama to be locked up despite chants MORE (D), whose district includes the part of Minneapolis where Floyd was killed, said when asked how the recent deaths of black men might influence Biden’s VP decision.

“Those who are closest to the pain should be closest to the solution,” Omar added.

Sources close to Biden — who served eight years as vice president to Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaTrump hits Biden as 'disrespectful' to Obama Is America ready to return to the Obama-Biden foreign policy? Trump's debate performance was too little, too late MORE, the first black president — say the rash of racial incidents haven't gone unnoticed by Biden and his team and will likely play a role in any decision making going forward. 

“I think this definitely makes him think twice and a third time about it,” said one longtime Biden ally close to the campaign. “He's definitely going to get increased pressure from the black community. You're already seeing that with new hires.”

ADVERTISEMENT

Biden has condemned Floyd’s killing, comparing it to the 2014 death of Eric Garner, another unarmed black man who died in 2014 after New York police put him in a chokehold.

“It sends a very clear message to the black community and black lives that are under threat every single day,” Biden said during a virtual campaign event on Wednesday.

He also said police have to be held “more fully accountable” while calling for an investigation by the FBI.

Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisSanders hits back at Trump's attack on 'socialized medicine' Watch live: Biden participates in HBCU homecoming Jennifer Aniston: 'It's not funny to vote for Kanye' MORE (D-Calif.), who is on the shortlist of candidates to be Biden’s running mate, has called for the officer involved in the killing to be arrested on murder charges.

Rep. Barbara LeeBarbara Jean LeeOcasio-Cortez, progressives call on Senate not to confirm lobbyists or executives to future administration posts Democrats accuse tech companies of deceitful tactics in campaign against Calif. ballot measure Congress fiddles while the US burns, floods, and ails MORE (D-Calif.), a former chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, has called on Biden to pick an African American woman like Harris, who was previously the attorney general of California.

A new Biden administration must understand that “black lives do matter, and for generations African American men and women have been subjected to unequal justice, have been killed, have been murdered,” Lee, who represents Oakland, told The Hill.

“So it’s time for Biden to select a vice president and attorney general who’s going to make sure there is equal justice under the law and say very loudly and clearly that black lives do matter and this country will no longer tolerate what has taken place,” Lee added.

Biden is expected to announce his pick before Aug. 1. It will be his first major decision as his party’s standard-bearer, and he is facing pressure from different parts of the party.

Progressives are pushing for him to pick a liberal such as Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenFinal debate: War Admiral vs. Seabiscuit Biden defends his health plan from Trump attacks Progressives blast Biden plan to form panel on Supreme Court reform MORE (D-Mass.), who supporters argue would energize the Democratic grass-roots.

Others have touted swing-state politicians who might help Biden win Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, the three Rust Belt states that President Trump won from Democrats in 2016.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) is a favorite of some, as is Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharStart focusing on veterans' health before they enlist Durbin says he will run for No. 2 spot if Dems win Senate majority Democrats seem unlikely to move against Feinstein MORE (D-Minn.), whose state is now the center of the latest storm over an African American death.

Other African American women believed to be on Biden’s shortlist include former United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice; Rep. Val DemingsValdez (Val) Venita DemingsDisney to lay off 28,000 employees Florida Democrat introduces bill to recognize Puerto Rico statehood referendum Sunday shows - Trump team defends coronavirus response MORE (D-Fla.), a former Orlando police chief; and former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams. 

ADVERTISEMENT

Biden himself faces pressure to pick an African American woman given the boost black people gave to his campaign when he won the South Carolina primary. Before that victory, his campaign looked like it might never take off.  

“He knows that through the course of the campaign and the reason he's the nominee is the base of support he's received from the African American community,” one ally of Biden said.

This ally also contrasted Biden with Trump, saying he would continue to talk about racial justice and show how American leadership would be different under a new president.

Biden quickly apologized last week for his “cavalier” comments to black radio host Charlamagne tha God that “you ain’t black” if African Americans vote for Trump, and there are differences of opinion about how much the remarks hurt him.

NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson warned that Biden “cannot take the African American vote for granted,” and one Biden fundraiser told The Hill that the remarks should lead him to pick a black woman as his running mate.

Other Democrats close to Biden downplayed the remarks.

ADVERTISEMENT

Asked about the “you ain’t black” remark, Demings, who’s being vetted for VP, replied that Biden “shouldn’t have said it.”

“But by the same token, if we are keeping score, the president of the United States certainly has a greater responsibility than someone running for president,” Demings told The Hill outside the Capitol. "And unfortunately President Trump, since before he was elected, did everything in his power to divide us, particularly along racial lines."

“America needs to get this right. We’ve seen these unfortunate types of incidents happening for decades,” Demings added. “I think Joe Biden is committed to selecting the best running mate possible. I think he has some really good choices; I’m glad that my name is being called.”