For months, former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams has played coy on the topic of being someone’s running mate for the 2020 election. But now that former Vice President Joe Biden is the presumptive nominee, Abrams is making her intentions a lot more clear, recently saying she would have concerns if he didn’t pick a woman of color to share the presidential ticket.
Speaking on The View on Wednesday, Abrams responded to host Sunny Hostin’s question about whether Biden skipping over a black woman veep would be viewed as a “slap in the face” to black voters.
Abrams first offered a show of support to the 77-year-old candidate.
“I think Vice President Biden is going to make a smart choice, and I appreciate the fact that he has lifted up women as being a necessary partner in this,” she said, before adding, “I would share your concern about not picking a woman of color because women of color—particularly black women—are the strongest part of the Democratic Party, the most loyal, but that loyalty isn’t simply how we vote.
“It’s how we work, and if we want to signal that that work will continue, that we’re going to reach not just to certain segments of our community, but to the entire country, then we need a ticket that reflects the diversity of America,” Abrams said.
Her remarks, coupled with her declaration in her Elle magazine last week that she would be “an excellent running mate,” are being viewed as Abrams openly campaigning for the coveted role. (I mean, did you see her strike the presidential power pose?) But she’s far from the only name in the mix.
A New York Times article published Friday morning dove into some of the names being tossed out by high-profile members of the Democratic party: the Congressional Black Caucus has thrown support behind Senator Kamala Harris, Astead Herndon reports, while the Reverend Al Sharpton vouched for Abrams. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has pushed Reps. Val Demings (Fla.) and Marcia Fudge (Ohio) as picks, while S.C. Rep. Jim Clyburn said he thought Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms would make a “tremendous V.P. candidate” in March.
Many of the people who spoke to the Times expressed concern that promising a black woman on the Supreme Court, or any other high profile role outside of the vice presidency, wouldn’t be enough. Worse, that it would turn off black voters who had been the backbone of Biden’s campaign, or diminish their enthusiasm. To that end, The Washington Post reported Friday that 200 black women penned an open letter to Biden urging him to pick a black woman as a running mate. No one woman was singled out as their top choice, but among the black women listed as qualified candidates were Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA), former National Security Adviser Susan Rice, Demings, Fudge, Harris, Lance-Bottoms, and, of course, Abrams.
While we’re still months away from Biden announcing his shortlist of his candidates—he said this week that members of his vice presidential selection committee will be announced by May 1, with a shortlist of three potential running mates to come “by sometime in July,” Politico reports.
The vice presidential selection process might seem glacial n part because of how the campaign has had to slow down in light of the coronavirus. Biden also assumed the title of presumptive nominee fairly early on in the race—former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton wasn’t named the presumptive nominee until June 2016.
Still, many people expect Abrams—the most-searched-for politician during the 2018 elections—to be an early favorite for Biden’s selection committee. And she appears to have caught the attention of our Tide pod-eating president, who misgendered Abrams as “he” during a press briefing earlier this week. Abrams responded by changing her bio on Twitter to her actual pronouns, “she/her.”
As pundits are sure to note, openly campaigning for the vice-presidential nomination, as Abrams appears to be, is an unusual move. But these are unusual times, and Abrams, widely seen as a transformative politician, is a standout by any measure. After narrowly losing a contested election to Brian Kemp, who is accused of suppressing thousands of votes to win the governor’s seat, Abrams has spent much of her time advocating for free and fair elections, as well promoting participation in the U.S. Census, particularly in the black community.
Abrams knows her explicit interest in the vice presidency is not the norm, but, as she explained on The View, it is a strategic choice:
“I try to be straightforward because while we hope the work speaks for itself, sometimes the work needs a hype man, and I learned early on that if I didn’t speak for myself, I couldn’t tell the story.”