BY TREVOR HUNNICUTT AND MICHAEL MARTINA
Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden has interviewed the finalists to be his running mate and his campaign is readying to announce his choice as soon as this week, a person familiar with the process told Reuters.
Biden and his potential vice president will formally accept the party’s nomination at the Democratic National Convention, scheduled for Aug. 17-20, and he is expected to announce his pick before it begins.
The New York Times reported earlier on Monday that Biden’s campaign plans to announce a decision as soon as Tuesday, but more likely on Wednesday, citing people briefed on the selection process.
The newspaper said the committee that screened the candidates had “effectively disbanded” after completing its work. It noted that Biden has missed previous deadlines to announce his pick, and that the timeline could “slip again.”
A Biden campaign spokesman declined to comment.
Biden, the former vice president under Barack Obama, has committed to picking a woman as his running mate and has come under increasing pressure from some Democratic leaders and activists for her to be Black.
They argue Biden otherwise risks dampening enthusiasm among Black voters who are so crucial to the Democratic base and his hopes of unseating Republican President Donald Trump in November’s election, particularly as the country has been gripped with protests against racial injustice.
Aimee Allison, founder of She the People, a group that promotes women of color in politics, told Reuters she thought it would be politically “reckless” if Biden did not choose a woman of color.
“It’s the most important decision the Biden camp can make to set the tone for the last 80 or so days,” she said. “Picking a Black woman for the ticket is affirmation that we are included in the vision of governance.”
U.S. Senator Kamala Harris of California and former national security adviser Susan Rice, both Black, are among the top contenders.
According to Democratic officials and Biden allies, U.S. Representative Karen Bass, a Black lawmaker from California, and a half dozen other women were under serious consideration. They include senators Elizabeth Warren and Tammy Duckworth, U.S. Representative Val Demings, New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham and Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer.
Biden’s choice, the most weighty of his political career, has drawn an unusual amount of attention given his age. If he defeats Trump, he would be 78 on inauguration day next January, the oldest U.S. president in history, and it is possible he may only seek one four-year term.