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Photos: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images; Win McNamee/Getty Images

Confidants of Joe Biden believe his choices for vice president have narrowed to Sen. Kamala Harris and Susan Rice — and would be surprised if he picks anyone else.

The state of play: This is a snapshot of the nearly unanimous read that we get from more than a dozen people close to him.

  • Of course, it comes with a giant asterisk: Only Biden knows for sure, and the more insiders know, the less they say to reporters.
  • He's not expected to announce his choice for another week or so — the Democratic convention begins Aug. 17 — so that reality could certainly change.

What's happening: The campaign is now in methodical mode as it finalizes vetting, looks at internal polling results on potential picks and talks to finalists one-on-one.

  • In third place is Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.), who had a faltering performance on the Sunday shows after revelations about her past views on Cuba and Scientology.

The case for Harris: Biden’s brain trust — Steve Ricchetti, Mike Donilon and Ted Kaufman — skew older and have deep and trusting relationships with many of the Obama and Clinton veterans who are advocating for Harris.

  • It rests in part on her prosecutorial skills, which could help her attack the Trump administration with discipline.

The case for Rice: Rice is getting a big bounce from Obama people who claim her presence on the ticket would guarantee the enthusiastic presence of both Barack and Michelle Obama on the campaign trail.

  • If the contest comes down to a popularity contest with Obama alumni, Rice has an edge — and Rice allies point to her White House experience.
  • Her team acknowledges Republicans will trot out her early misstatements about the Benghazi attacks that were based on incomplete intelligence she'd been given, and she wants to defuse that by bringing it up herself.

Go deeper

Oct 17, 2020 - Health

Kamala Harris to campaign in Florida on Monday

Photo: Robyn Beck/AFP via Getty Image

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) took a COVID-19 test on Saturday and the virus was not detected, according to a campaign aide.

Driving the news: The Democratic vice presidential nominee paused her campaign travel through Sunday after her communications director tested positive for the coronavirus.

41 mins ago - Health

U.S. tops 88,000 COVID-19 cases, setting new single-day record

Expand chart
Data: COVID Tracking Project; Chart: Axios Visuals

The United States reported 88,452 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, setting a single-day record, according to data from the COVID Tracking Project.

The big picture: The country confirmed 1,049 additional deaths due to the virus, and there are over 46,000 people currently being hospitalized, suggesting the U.S. is experiencing a third wave heading into the winter months.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Large coronavirus outbreaks leading to high death rates — Coronavirus cases are at an all-time high ahead of Election Day.
  2. Politics: Top HHS spokesperson pitched coronavirus ad campaign as "helping the president" — Space Force's No. 2 general tests positive for coronavirus.
  3. World: Taiwan reaches a record 200 days with no local coronavirus cases.
  4. Sports: MLB to investigate Dodgers player who joined celebration after positive COVID test.
  5. 🎧Podcast: The vaccine race turns toward nationalism.