Mar 16, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Joe Biden commits to picking a woman as his running mate

Joe Biden said at the Democratic debate on Sunday night that he will commit to picking a woman to be his vice presidential running mate if he wins the nomination.

What he's saying: "If I'm elected president, my Cabinet, my administration will look like the country. And I commit that I will in fact pick a woman to be vice president. There are a number of women who are qualified to be the president of tomorrow. I would pick a woman to be my vice president."

  • Sen. Bernie Sanders also said that "in all likelihood" he would do the same, but added: "For me, it's not just nominating a woman. It is making sure we have a progressive woman, and there are progressive women out there. So my very strong tendency is to move in that direction."

Between the lines: House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.), who is widely credited with reviving Biden's campaign, told "Axios on HBO" Sunday that he would advise Biden to pick a woman as his running mate — and specifically an African American woman.

Clyburn's list of qualified African American women includes:

  • Sen. Kamala Harris
  • Rep. Marcia Fudge
  • Rep. Val Demings
  • Former Georgia state Rep. Stacey Abrams
  • Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms
  • Former national security adviser Susan Rice
  • Also on his list: Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Elizabeth Warren

Go deeper

James Clyburn wants Joe Biden to pick an African American woman for vice president

Harris: Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images. Clyburn: Photo: Michael Brochstein/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images. Abrams: Photo: Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for The Hollywood Reporter.

Rep. James Clyburn has a list of African American women who are qualified to be vice president, and he told "Axios on HBO" in an interview that there's a "much deeper bench than people realize."

The big picture: Clyburn is widely credited with saving Biden's campaign following his endorsement in the South Carolina Democratic primaries.

4 takeaways from the Biden-Sanders Democratic debate

Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

The last time former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders took the debate stage, eight candidates were still competing for the nomination, Biden's campaign looked to be on its last legs, and the coronavirus epidemic was the subject of just one question from moderators.

The state of play: The world has changed dramatically since Feb. 25. Bumping elbows and standing the CDC-recommended six feet apart in a CNN studio without an audience, the two candidates, both septuagenarians, sparred over their visions for an America paralyzed by a global health crisis.

Joe Biden's secret governing plan

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Animation: Nathan Goodell/The Strangeworks

This is a new "Axios on HBO" column on the reality behind the curtain of the powerful, by Jim VandeHei and Mike Allen.

Joe Biden confidants are privately discussing potential leaders and Cabinet members for his White House, including the need to name a woman or African American — perhaps both — as vice president, top sources tell "Axios on HBO." 

Why it matters: Biden advisers describe a Return to Normal plan — a reversal of President Trump's unorthodox, improvisational style. Biden wants known, trusted people around him — many from the Obama years.