Whitmer or Warren would pay big dividends to Biden this fall

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Even if the COVID-19 plague abates, former Vice President Joe Biden will still have his work cut out for him if he becomes president. The coronavirus crisis may recede by January, but the economic devastation will linger. Millions of Americans will still be struggling with the financial consequences of massive job losses. Many of those lost jobs will never return. The combination of tax revenue losses and the need for increased social services will leave state and local governments in a horrible financial bind.

Joe Biden is no stranger to coping with economic disaster left behind by a Republican president. When he became vice president in 2009 under President Barack Obama, the nation was reeling under the ravages of the Great Recession caused by the meltdown of the financial industry while George W. Bush was president.

A running mate for Biden like Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer or Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who have practical economic expertise, would add significant value to the national Democratic ticket.

Whitmer went from being a state senator to a national player in a flash. She became governor in Jan. 2019 and ascended to the national scene only a year later when she delivered the Democratic response to President Trump’s State of the Union address. 

Gov. Whitmer can tout her hands-on experience dealing with the day to day realities of the pandemic. She has mandated tough restrictions on economic activity in Michigan. Opponents of social distancing egged on by the president have protested her actions to stave off the impact of the pandemic. But her tough love has paid off. A recent Fox News Poll in Michigan indicated that voters there approve of her handling of the coronavirus crisis by a wide margin (63 percent approve, and 35 percent disapprove). She gets much better marks in the state than her frequent sparring partner, Donald Trump (47 percent approve and 51percent disapprove).

The icing on Biden’s cake is that she is young (48 years old), the chief executive of a battleground state and a target of Donald Trump’s twitter tantrums. As the governor of a swing state, Whitmer would certainly be an asset as Biden’s running mate since his path to the White House runs through the industrial Midwest.

If the governor or as Trump calls her, “the woman in Michigan,” becomes Biden’s running mate, she will have Donald Trump to thank for her promotion. The president’s attacks elevated the woman whose presence on the Democratic national ticket could end his presidency, and while they might make him feel good, his jabs are politically self-defeating.

Another woman in the long line of women who get under the president’s skin is Elizabeth Warren. There is a good argument for a woman like Whitmer or Warren to be Biden’s running mate. Both women irritate Trump and the president’s inevitable attacks on them would divert his spleen away from Biden.

More to the point, there are sound political and policy reasons for a Biden/Warren ticket. Her economic expertise and her progressive following would be a good return on Biden’s investment in the senator.

Like many Americans, Warren suffered a personal loss from the pandemic. Last week, her oldest brother, Donald died from COVID-19

Sen. Warren is a recognized authority on the devastating impact of the Great Recession on working families. She appeared on the national scene as an economic expert before she began her political career as a U.S. senator in 2010. She specialized in bankruptcy law, which she taught at the Harvard University Law School. She focused her research on the devastating impact of bankruptcy on middle class families. Her study of bankruptcy led her to become a harsh critic of the financial industry. The 2008 Wall Street crash elevated her to the national political arena when she became the champion of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, created by Congress in 2009 to fight financial industry abuses.

She ran for the Democratic presidential nomination as an economic populist and she, like Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), supported Medicare for All and the Green New Deal. Her progressive credibility would be a way for the Democratic standard bearer to extend an olive branch to the Sanders supporters who have not followed the Vermont senator into the Biden camp. Her presidential run also means she has been vetted by the media, so there should not be any shocking surprises during the fall campaign.

It is unclear how long the health dangers posed by the coronavirus will persist but it’s crystal clear that the economic problems wrought by the crisis will be long lasting. The economic expertise that Whitmer and Warren bring to the table would pay big dividends to Joe Biden this fall.

Brad Bannon is a Democratic pollster and CEO of Bannon Communications Research. He is also the host of a radio podcast “Dateline D.C. With Brad Bannon” that airs on the Progressive Voices Network. Follow him on Twitter @BradBannon

Tags 2020 race Barack Obama Bernie Sanders Biden campaign Democrats Donald Trump Elizabeth Warren governors Gretchen Whitmer Joe Biden presidential campaign presidential election Presidential Race progressive vice president VP Pick

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