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Joe Biden potential VP picks

Sen. Kamala Harris on Thursday and national security

Sen. Kamala Harris on Thursday and national security adviser Susan Rice in 2014. Credit: Pool / Getty Images; AP

The guessing game is almost over, as Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, nears the unveiling of his vice presidential running mate.

We already know that it will be a woman; Biden said that earlier this year. His search is centering around Black women — although Biden, a former vice president himself, hasn’t said explicitly that he will select a woman of color.

Because of his age, 77, and the possibility he will serve only one term, Biden's choice takes on even more importance.

The public announcement will be the week of Aug. 10, according to The New York Times.

Here's a look at 10 contenders.

KAMALA HARRIS

California senator; former 2020 presidential candidate; former California attorney general

Harris took on Biden on the debate stage in a spotlight moment last summer over his 1970s opposition to court-ordered busing to desegregate public schools. Biden, however, was seen recently holding notes that said about her, "Do not hold grudges" and "Great respect for her." The daughter of immigrants from Jamaica and India, Harris has been out front in the discussion on race, policing and the country’s history of institutional racism. She has a deep resume and has a talent for prosecuting opponents rhetorically. But her record as a prosecutor, especially on drug offenses, has been a target of progressives, and could complicate her advocacy of major overhauls in the U.S. criminal justice system.

SUSAN RICE

Former national security adviser; former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations

Rice has a foreign affairs resume that could appeal to Biden — she could be a No. 2 he'd dispatch around the world without worry. The most prominent Black diplomat in the Democratic Party, she also stands out as the only contender Biden has worked closely with in the West Wing, when she was President Barack Obama's national security adviser. The close working relationship Rice forged with Biden during the Obama administration is seen as a key intangible that other contenders simply don't have. Rice has never run for office, and her biggest encounter with politics ended badly. She was Obama's choice for second-term secretary of state, but withdrew her nomination amid congressional Republicans' fury over the 2012 attacks on the American Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, that killed four Americans, including an ambassador.

ELIZABETH WARREN

Massachusetts senator; former 2020 candidate

The progressive has emerged as one of Biden's key policy advisers, and he has embraced some of her positions, notably on overhauling bankruptcy laws. Warren's sweeping calls for "big structural change" contrasted with Biden during the primary, but they obscured that she, too, likes to hash out complex policy deals. She could fit the bill if he's looking for something like a domestic policy czar — and her career in consumer, working-class advocacy fits this moment of pandemic economic fallout. Choosing Warren would play into Republicans' recent argument that Biden is a "tool of the radical left." But if they made it to the White House, whatever Biden assigned to Warren's portfolio, she'd probably have a plan for it.

KAREN BASS

House representative from California; Congressional Black Caucus chair

Bass has had the most surprising rise in the veepstakes. She has a personal and political resume that backers say make her unique among Biden's options, and has become a quiet force in the House as chair of the Congressional Black Caucus. As California State Assembly speaker, Bass served during crippling budget cuts that forced difficult deals with Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Bass and Biden share something important: she lost her daughter and son-in-law in a car accident, and he lost his daughter and first wife in a car accident. Bass has said she has no designs on the presidency, and she would need a national introduction. You could expect Republicans to try and make one based on her history, such as how she has visited Cuba to see the Communist nation's health care system and said complimentary things about Fidel Castro.

VAL DEMINGS

House representative from Florida; former Orlando police chief

Demings has turned heads in her short time in Washington. She impressed Democrats, including Biden confidante and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, as a House impeachment manager against President Donald Trump. Demings grew up in Jacksonville's segregated public schools and later became the first woman to lead the Orlando Police Department — but her law enforcement resume cuts two ways. While she has called for overhauls and been sharply critical of police violence, Demings built her career in the system now being scrutinized.

KEISHA LANCE BOTTOMS

Atlanta mayor

Bottoms is among a handful of Black women to lead high-profile U.S. cities, and has established some progressive credentials by ending cash bail and cutting Atlanta's cooperation with federal immigration enforcement. She was one of the earliest and most active big-city mayors to endorse Biden and campaign for him. Bottoms drew plaudits for how she handled initial protests in Atlanta after George Floyd's killing. The national reckoning on race and policing gives her a notable platform. But in June, when a white Atlanta police officer killed a Black man, Rayshard Brooks, by shooting him in the back, violence in the city surged within days.

TAMMY DUCKWORTH

Illinois senator; former House representative

Duckworth was an Army captain and Black Hawk pilot who lost both of her legs during the Iraq War. She became the first sitting senator to give birth in 2018, then successfully lobbied to change Senate rules to allow newborns on the chamber floor so working moms could breastfeed. While she has made headlines along her inspiring public career, Duckworth hasn't been a consistent force yet in Washington. Duckworth is of Thai descent, and while Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are the fastest-growing demographic in the U.S. population, they remain vastly outnumbered by Hispanics and African Americans among Democrats and overall.

TAMMY BALDWIN

Wisconsin senator; former House representative

Yes, there are two Tammys from the Midwest in the running. Baldwin is a proven battleground state winner with a long resume — local office, state legislature, U.S. House and Senate — who won reelection by double digits in 2018. Baldwin was the first openly lesbian woman elected to Congress. She frames herself as a progressive shaped by the movement's long history in Wisconsin. She opposed the Iraq War, unlike Biden. But while she has established herself on Capitol Hill, that has not translated much beyond the Beltway bubble.

GRETCHEN WHITMER

Michigan governor; former Michigan State Senate Democratic leader

Whitmer's profile has risen during the pandemic. She garnered initial plaudits, while President Trump mentioned her from the White House podium, calling her the "woman from Michigan." Whitmer was a standout of the 2018 midterms, flipping the governor's office, and has impressive job approval ratings at home. Biden has complimented her publicly, and she fits his "simpatico" wish and adds a dose of youth (she's 48) without any baggage from Washington. If the former VP buys into the notion that a running mate can make the difference in her home state and region, Whitmer becomes a top contender. A reason for pause: Running a national campaign while balancing the duties of a state executive during a crisis may be somewhere between difficult and impossible.

MICHELLE LUJAN GRISHAM

New Mexico governor; former House representative

Lujan Grisham is the lone Democratic Latina governor, and her long career in government includes three terms in Congress before she was elected New Mexico's leader in 2018. She is the only woman of color who would bring to a Biden ticket experience as a state chief executive and federal legislator. Lujan Grisham is an especially outspoken defender of abortion rights, and has pushed to make the state's colleges and universities free for residents. However, she would need a national introduction, and like Whitmer, she'd have to balance a national campaign with her day job during a pandemic.

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