The seemingly rising racial tensions — which intensified earlier this week, following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis — appear to have convinced some Democrats that Biden needs to select an African-American woman.
“Some African-American leaders and activists said a black woman on the ticket would help demonstrate to black voters, a crucial component of the Democratic base, that Biden is committed to addressing issues like criminal justice reform and police misconduct.”
Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota has long been considered one of the front-runners for the position, but her background as a prosecutor is now seen as disqualifying by some.
“Amy Klobuchar is an absolute no-go. A black woman would give him an instant boost,” said Keith Williams, chairman of the Democratic Party Black Caucus in Michigan.
Apparently alluding to Klobuchar’s problematic record on police misconduct, top House Democrat James Clyburn said that “this is very tough timing” for the Minnesota senator.
Progressive organization MoveOn weighed in on the situation as well, urging Klobuchar to drop out of the contest.
Klobuchar has also been accused of refusing to prosecute Derek Chauvin, the police officer charged with murdering Floyd, in 2006. In an interview on Friday, she described the allegations as a “lie,” saying that she was not involved in the 2006 case. The senator also noted that African-American incarceration rates dropped during her tenure.
Several prominent black women are thought to be on Biden’s shortlist. However, two top contenders — Sen. Kamala Harris of California and Rep. Val Demings of Florida — have law enforcement backgrounds. Harris served as district attorney and California attorney general, while Demings was chief of police.
According to Democratic donor Steve Phillips, this could be a major issue for team Biden. “It’s going to be challenging to put a law enforcement person on the ticket with him,” Phillips said, noting that Harris’ has been criticized for her record on criminal justice.
National Director of the Working Families Party Maurice Mitchell stated that “representation matters, it’s critical, but representation alone isn’t sufficient.”
In the Democratic Party’s presidential primaries, Biden overwhelmingly won the African-American vote, but he’s had his own issues with race. Most recently, during a radio interview, the former vice president said that African-Americans who are not sure whether to back him or President Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election “ain’t black.”
Biden apologized for making the remarks, but he also said that the interviewer was “baiting” him.