About fundamental American values

Even if Biden hadn’t said he’d pick a woman, I’d advise him to pick Illinois Sen. Tammy Duckworth anyway. Policywise, she checks the usual boxes such as stricter gun laws and protection of abortion rights. But this election goes beyond mere policy positions. It is about putting men and women in the White House who possess fundamental American values like honesty and decency — values from which good policy is more likely than not to result. Finally, and in contrast to our draft-dodging president, and our couldn’t-be-bothered-to-serve vice president, Duckworth not only volunteered, but sacrificed both her legs and partial mobility in her right arm in Iraq for our country. She is the embodiment of “duty, honor, country,” and Americans need to be reminded what these things truly mean.  

Paul Brandus is White House bureau chief of West Wing Reports. Follow him on Twitter: @WestWingReport

Best prepared to be president

The person best prepared to step into the job of president if the occasion arose would be former National Security Council Director Susan Rice. She is very smart and knows her way around the White House. Her principal shortcoming is her somewhat steely demeanor. But with Biden at the head of ticket there would be more than enough high affect. Her credentials are impeccable and would put to rest the argument that Biden is merely pandering to minority voters. Value added: She would eat Pence alive in a debate. 

Ross K. Baker is a distinguished professor of political science at Rutgers University. Follow him on Twitter: @Rosbake1

Former National Security Adviser Susan Rice.Seized her national moment

Florida Rep. Val Demings seized her moment on the national stage as a House impeachment manager earlier this year. While some would shy away from a law enforcement official, Biden would be wise to choose this former Orlando Police chief. Far from following a traditional path to politics or police work, Demings grew up as one of seven children of a maid and a janitor, and worked as a social worker. That background informed her work in policing, where she focused on improving relations with the community, just what America needs at this moment in history. She comes from the electorally important state of Florida, runs marathons and rides a Harley, a combination of attributes that make her appealing to almost every demographic. 

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Barbara McQuade, a former U.S. attorney, is a professor at the University of Michigan Law School. Follow her on Twitter: @BarbMcQuade

Tough, warm-hearted charisma

In selecting his running mate, Joe Biden should seize a unique opportunity to heal the present painful breach between law enforcement and the Black community. Rep. Val Demings grew up as the daughter of a janitor and a house maid before graduating from Florida State and spending 27 years with the Orlando Police Department. She rose to the rank of chief, then won election to Congress in 2016, earning appreciation from both the cops she led and the community she served. Her husband of 32 years, Jerry Demings, also worked as a cop, police chief and county sheriff, and currently serves as Mayor of Orange County, Florida — the most crucial electoral battleground in the most crucial of all swing states. When President Trump attacks Biden as anti-police (and he will), Val and Jerry Demings would be perfectly positioned to respond. The congresswoman not only can help Biden win, but would help him govern, with her demonstrated bridge-building skills and tough but warm-hearted charisma.

Michael Medved is syndicated talk radio host.

Rep. Val Demings, D-FL., speaks as the House Judiciary Committee receives counsel presentations of evidence as part of the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump on Dec. 9, 2019 in Washington.Southern, Florida roots

Joe Biden has a wealth of amazing women to choose as his running mate next month, but I think his best choice is Florida Rep. Val Demings. Sen. Kamala Harris is everybody’s favorite, including mine, and Sen. Tammy Duckworth is a decorated combat veteran who lost her legs in Iraq. But Demings is from Florida, a state that Biden must win if he wants to break Trump’s 2016 electoral path to victory. Demings is a mother of three sons, narried to the mayor of a Florida city. She was a former police chief. And most recently she was a House Impeachment manager against Trump earlier this year. Her grit, grace, smarts and deep southern roots are exactly what Biden needs to help him win in November. 

Sophia A. Nelson is a CNN commentator. Follow her on Twitter: @IAmSophiaNelson

Answer to Trump’s lawlessness 

Given the lawlessness of the current administration, the idea of a sharp, hard-working prosecutor on the Democratic ticket has undeniable appeal. Who better than California Sen. Kamala Harris, a former district attorney who has shown a prosecutorial tenacity at Senate hearings, to join Joe Biden in making the “case” to voters that Trump has failed as president and must be ousted? The marshaling of evidence and argument are the prosecutor’s way. So is competitive instinct. Harris has demonstrated plenty, never more so than in her well-executed jab at Biden himself at the June 2019 candidates’ debate. Don’t hold that against her, Joe. Pick her as your running mate. Whether it’s the courtroom, the Senate hearing room, or the race for the White House, she’s in to win, and rarely if ever has winning been so important.

Tom Krattenmaker writes on religion and values in American public life. Follow him on Twitter at @tkrattenmaker

Sen. Kamala Harris, who ended her run in December 2019, had some celebrity supporters as well.Appeals to diverse voters

For his vice president, Joe Biden should go with the most strategic choice: Sen. Kamala Harris. Her own run for the nomination has already earned her a national profile. This matters in an election that may feature a virtual convention and few rallies. Harris hails from a state with significant Latinx, Black, and Asian-American populations, so she can appeal to diverse groups of voters. The historic nature of her nomination will likely drive turnout among people of color in battleground states, especially Black women; Harris would also bring a sense of excitement and enthusiasm to the Biden campaign. Her questioning of William Barr and Brett Kavanaugh in Senate hearings has demonstrated her compelling presence and sharp intellect.  At a time when the country is grappling with systemic racism, Harris — who co-authored a Democratic bill on police reform — is uniquely qualified to serve as vice president.  

Raul Reyes is a New York attorney. Follow him on Twitter: @RaulAReyes

Flip Michigan in 2020

Joe Biden should pick Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to be his running mate because she can help flip a Trump state that Democrats need to retake the White House. With the large, liberal coastal states of California and New York in the bag, a Democratic ticket can focus on key Rust Belt battlegrounds like Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, which swung the last election to the GOP. The Great Lakes State, which had not gone Republican for president in 28 years until 2016, is ripe for the picking. Donald Trump won it by only 0.2%, his smallest margin in the country, but two years later, Whitmer won statewide by almost 10 points. This summer, the governor’s approval rating rose to 60%, while the president’s disapproval rating dipped to 59% among Michiganders. The “Big Gretch’s” lockdown policies during the pandemic sparked conservative protests at the statehouse, but they have been popular with independents, who gave the governor 65% support for her handling of the coronavirus. Like elsewhere, polls wrongly showed Hillary Clinton winning Michigan in 2016 and very well could be skewed again this cycle. That is why Biden should not take anything for granted and tap Gov. Whitmer for his veep pick to lock up this vital Midwest state.

Brett M. Decker is author of “The Conservative Case for Trump.” Follow him on Twitter: @BrettMDecker

Democrats need a brawler

Joe Biden’s best choice for running mate is obvious. She has a national organization, instant name recognition, a strong fundraising network, top-drawer credentials and a track record of igniting the liberal base of the Democratic Party. She is not known for reaching across the aisle, but Biden has spent decades staking out a position in the middle of the road. The Democratic ticket doesn’t need another conciliator; it needs a brawler who stands up for her principles on issues ranging from income inequality to civil rights to a defense of labor unions. Democrats need a fighter, preferably one with a well-chronicled knack for getting under President Trump’s skin. Frankly, when she left the Democratic primary in March — leaving behind two white men in their seventies — much of the excitement left with her. It’s time to bring that excitement back. Best of all, she is ready to be president on day one. Of course, the woman for the job is Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts. 

Ruben Navarrette Jr. is a syndicated columnist and host of the podcast, “Navarrette Nation.” Follow him on Twitter: @RubenNavarrette

No-nonsense combat vet

Joe Biden doesn’t need the demographically optimal, most perfectly poll-tested vice president to win. So I say forget all considerations except this one: Who would be the best governing partner and the best president, not someday but now, should anything happen to Biden? America, meet Illinois Sen. Tammy Duckworth, a no-nonsense combat veteran who helped save the Americans with Disabilities Act. In many ways, her strengths are the same as Biden’s. Duckworth, who lost both legs and partial use of one arm when the Blackhawk helicopter she was piloting was shot down by Iraqi insurgents, has been through a lot and yet retained both a sense of joy and of purpose. Every morning, she told The New York Times, she wakes up grateful to Dan Milberg, the Army co-pilot who pulled her from the wreckage outside Baghdad: “I wake up every day thinking, ‘I am never going to make Dan regret saving my life.’” The first woman to bring a baby, her newborn daughter, on the floor of the Senate with her to cast a vote a couple of years ago, she was also the first to call the president “Cadet Bone Spurs,” in response to what she saw as his bullying. I’m guessing that when you’ve fainted from hunger in class as a kid, and pushed to become a pilot because that was one of the only Army combat roles open to women, Donald Trump does not scare you. Duckworth is what her fellow Midwesterners would admiringly call “a normal person” — easy to be around, hard to dislike. It was never true that Trump would find it hard to disparage her; that’s his best event. But the now former Sen. Mark Kirk could tell him how that will work out. Duckworth was born in Thailand, to a Thai mother and an American father, and when Duckworth was running for Kirk’s seat in 2016, he answered her debate comment about her pride in her two ancestors who’d fought alongside George Washington with the crack that he wasn’t aware anyone had come over from Thailand to do that. He ended up having to apologize, and she ended up being sworn in. Biden and Duckworth would be a good team, and I don’t see the former vice president ever having to apologize for choosing her as his running mate.    

Melinda Henneberger is an editorial writer and columnist for The Kansas City Star. Follow her on Twitter: @MelindaKCMO 

Sen. Tammy Duckworth, right, speaks to reporters alongside Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer on Oct. 22, 2019.Younger, credible, impressive

Of the candidates Joe Biden has under consideration, Sen. Kamala Harris makes the most sense by far. Given Biden’s age, he needs to choose someone who is significantly younger than he is but who also comes with serious credibility. Her impressive resume makes Harris an ideal apprentice for president. While her background in law enforcement will work against her in some circles, she will be running against a team that favors pardoning friends and replacing police officers with federal stormtroopers—which somewhat nullifies that disadvantage. During the primaries, Harris took the fight to Biden; she is equally capable of taking it to Trump and Pence 

Ellis Cose is the author of  “Democracy, If We Can Keep It: The ACLU’s 100-Year Fight for Rights in America.” Follow him on Twitter: @EllisCose

Powerful progressive visionary

As plenty of thought pieces have pointed out, vice presidential picks don’t really swing elections. So if, as historical data suggest, a presidential candidate’s VP choice doesn’t impact voting decisively one way or the other, the VP pick is really just a way for the presidential candidate to show something about her or his character. That’s why I was so horrified when Hillary Clinton picked Tim Kaine, who was a very bland, safe, centrist middle finger to the progressive Democratic base and stoked our fears that Clinton was, indeed, deep down a bland, safe centrist or at least would govern in that mold.  So Biden has an opportunity to show who he intends to be as president — in the words of Angela Davis, a leader “who can be most effectively pressured into allowing more space for the evolving anti-racist movement.”  That means, in no uncertain terms, picking a progressive women of color as his running mate — not just for symbolic reasons, but to show that he’s really listening and learning and different from Democrats of the past, not just paying lip service to Black voters and young progressives but actually building a new kind of party and new models of leadership for the future.  It means valuing Black voters and Black leaders not just for the photo ops but for their ideas and vision — and showing it by sharing power with a Black woman.  Personally, my pick would be Rep. Karen Bass of California — an amazing community organizer and powerful progressive visionary with experience at every level of government. But I’ll be happy with almost any pick… except Tim Kaine.

Sally Kohn is author of “The Opposite Of Hate: A Field Guide To Repairing Our Humanity.” Follow her on Twitter: @SallyKohn 

A focus on voting rights

When I think about who Joe Biden should pick as a running mate, my immediate thirst is to find someone who will stand on a debate stage or a debate Zoom and shred Mike Pence into eggshell-colored bits. So anybody but Tim Kaine. Further reflection requires me to think about which politician who fits Biden’s stated goal of picking a woman and also shows the former vice president understands the vast challenges we face. On a policy level, one woman has a plan for everything. Sen. Elizabeth Warren was the first candidate to issue a plan to confront COVID-19 that even grazed the scope of the problem. And her plans touch every and all of the interconnected crises Biden will have to face. Yet our greatest crisis, the one that makes all our other escalating inequalities so daunting, is the assault on democracy and voting that squealed into overdrive in 2010 with a mélange of restrictions on ballot access that all have the aim of preserving minority power for the GOP. No mainstream politician understands better the need to center voting rights, organizing and voter activation that can correct the ails in our system and keep the spirit of the streets alive, as Republicans turn to blame them for all of Trump’s failings, better than Stacey Abrams. She will show Biden’s commitment to fighting for every vote, in every possible swing state. And we’ll still have Warren in the Senate leading the charge on policy, ideally without a filibuster strangling the relief and reform America so desperately needs.

Jason Sattler, a writer based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, is a host of “The GOTMFV Show” podcast. Follow him on Twitter: @LOLGOP

Knowledge and experience

The median age of people who die from COVID-19 is 78. Should Joe Biden win the election, he will be 78 when he’s sworn in as president. He needs a vice president who is ready to be president. Rather than picking a Dan Quayle or a Sarah Palin — someone exciting and unqualified — Biden should pick someone who can govern immediately, someone with experience in the executive branch and knowledge of government and world affairs. He should pick Susan Rice. She graduated from Stanford University, was a Rhodes scholar and got a Ph.D. in international relations at Oxford University before serving as ambassador to the United Nations and national security adviser under President Obama. She can spell “potato” and knows not only where Russia is but also what it is: an enemy of the United States.

Windsor Mann is the editor of The Quotable Hitchens: From Alcohol to Zionism. Follow him on Twitter: @WindsorMann

Daughter of the American Revolution

Sen. Tammy Duckworth’s story embodies the very best of the American spirit and is a powerful contrast to “Private Bone Spurs,” Donald Trump. Her mother is Thai Chinese, which would make Duckworth the highest-serving member of the Asian American Pacific Islander community in our nation’s history. Oftentimes designated as the “model minority” and flagrantly subjected to racist epithets from Trump and his ilk, the APPI community is actually the fastest growing racial or ethnic group in the U.S. electorate. Moreover, for all of Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric, Duckworth also happens to be a “Daughter of the American Revolution,” whose father served in both World War II and Vietnam. Following in her family’s footsteps, she joined the Army Reserves and flew combat missions in Iraq, where she was shot down by Iraqi insurgents and lost both of her legs. Trump pretends to be tough, Duckworth actually is. The last time Biden was on the ticket with someone from Illinois, it worked out pretty well, why not let history repeat itself? 

Kurt Bardella is a senior adviser for the Lincoln Project. Follow him on Twitter: @kurtbardella

Not a progressive Rasputin

Progressive Democrats will get very annoyed at me if I presume to tell Democrats who to pick so I will tell them how to pick instead: Dance with the one that brung ya. Joe Biden got where he is today by calming the fears of people in the political middle so make sure those people are happy with the VP choice, especially the ones in the “new” swing states like Arizona, North Carolina and Ohio. Biden has already given progressives a seat at the table with his joint manifesto with Bernie Sanders — and that was fodder for attack ads before the ink was dry. The Trump campaign dreams of Biden picking a vice-president they can claim is a progressive Rasputin who would really be calling all the shots in a Biden administration. Remember what you guys used to say about Dick Cheney? Don’t give them the opportunity.

Chris Truax is an appellate lawyer in San Diego.

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Biden has a key choice to make in picking a vice president

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