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Unrest May Sway Biden VP Choice        06/01 06:23

   Joe Biden's search for a running mate could be reshaped by the police 
killing of George Floyd and the unrest it has ignited across the country, 
raising questions about contenders with law-and-order backgrounds and 
intensifying pressure on the presumptive Democratic nominee to select a black 
woman.

   WASHINGTON (AP) -- Joe Biden's search for a running mate could be reshaped 
by the police killing of George Floyd and the unrest it has ignited across the 
country, raising questions about contenders with law-and-order backgrounds and 
intensifying pressure on the presumptive Democratic nominee to select a black 
woman.

   Biden, who has already pledged to pick a woman, has cast a wide net in his 
search. Some of the women on his list have drawn national praise amid the 
protests over Floyd's death, including Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, who 
delivered an impassioned appeal for calm in her city on Friday night. But the 
outcry over police brutality against minorities has complicated the prospects 
of Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who had a controversial record addressing 
police violence as a prosecutor in the city where Floyd died.

   Biden's choice of a running mate will be among the most consequential 
decisions he makes in the campaign, particularly given that the 77-year-old is 
already talking about himself as a "transition" candidate to a new generation 
of Democratic leaders. His pick will also be viewed as a signal both of his 
values and who he believes should have representation at the highest level of 
the American government.

   Even before the outcry over Floyd's death, some Biden allies were already 
urging him to put a black woman on the ticket given the critical role African 
Americans played in his path to the Democratic nomination. Those calls have 
gotten louder in recent days.

   "The more we see this level of hatred, the more I think it's important to 
confront it with symbolic acts, including potentially the selection of an 
African American woman as vice president," said Randi Weingarten, president of 
the American Federation of Teachers and one of the labor leaders who's been 
asked for input by Biden's team on the selection process.

   Bottoms is one of several black women under consideration by Biden's 
campaign. Others Biden is believed to be considering include California Sen. 
Kamala Harris, Florida Rep. Val Demings and Stacey Abrams, the Georgia Democrat 
and voting rights activist.

   Demings didn't answer directly when asked if the events of the past week 
increased pressure on Biden to choose a black woman in an interview with The 
Associated Press on Sunday.

   "Well, we've never seen a black woman selected as a vice presidential 
candidate. But I think the American people want someone who cares about their 
issues and are willing to move the ball forward,"

   Asked if she believes race should be left out of the conversation, she was 
careful to defer to Biden.

   "It doesn't really matter what I think," she said. "What matters is what 
Americans think, and what Joe Biden thinks."

   Demings, a former Orlando police chief, wrote a high-profile editorial on 
Friday challenging her former colleagues in law enforcement.

   "As a former woman in blue, let me begin with my brothers and sisters in 
blue: What in the hell are you doing?" Demings wrote in The Washington Post.

   Politicians with law-and-order backgrounds have been viewed skeptically by 
some in the Democratic Party given the high-profile instances of police 
brutality against minorities and other inequities in the criminal justice 
system. In an interview Sunday, Demings defended herself and other potential 
contenders with such backgrounds, declaring "you're either gonna be part of the 
problem or part of the solution."

   "And I think the community wants people who understand the system from the 
inside out in order to bring real life necessary reforms," she said.

   Harris faced criticism throughout her Democratic primary campaign for her 
record as a prosecutor and attorney general in California, when she resisted 
reforms that would have required her office to investigate killings by police 
and established statewide standards for body cameras.

   Former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid suggested a resume as a prosecutor 
could be problematic for potential contenders.

   "Prosecutors are not very popular, especially among young people now," he 
said. "I've got a granddaughter who is graduating from law school and she wants 
to be a public defender. She doesn't want to be a prosecutor. And I think a lot 
of younger people feel the same."

   Klobuchar, who also sought the Democratic nomination, has faced questions 
about her eight years as prosecutor for Minnesota's largest county during the 
primary. Most of the more than two dozen people who died during police 
encounters in her tenure were people of color, according to data compiled by 
Communities United Against Police Brutality and news articles reviewed by the 
AP.

   An officer involved in one of those past fatal incidents was Derek Chauvin, 
who was arrested and charged Friday with Floyd's murder.

   Since ending her campaign, Klobuchar has emerged as a key Biden surrogate 
and some Democrats see her as a running mate who could help him appeal to some 
of the white, working-class voters who turned against the party in the 2016 
election. Yet some Democrats say the renewed focus on police brutality could 
complicate her path.

   "This is very tough timing for her," said Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C., a top 
Biden ally.

   Klobuchar has said that she is confident Biden will make the right choice 
and that she's not thinking about politics right now.

   Biden has said he will announce a running mate by Aug. 1, a timeline that 
leaves plenty of time for the national mood to shift again, particularly as the 
coronavirus pandemic and resulting economic collapse pressed on.

   Those twin crises have already led to increased scrutiny for others in the 
mix to become Biden's running mate.

   Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a frequent Trump target during the pandemic 
for her resistance to lifting stay at home orders, faced questions after her 
husband allegedly tried to skip the line with a dock company and get his boat 
in the water ahead of other patrons over Memorial Day weekend.

   And Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham of New Mexico was criticized by Republicans 
in her state following a report that she purchased jewelry from a local 
business just days after she ordered non-essential businesses to shut down and 
told residents to stay home.

   Former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, who was vetted as a potential vice 
presidential pick in 2004, said the scrutiny contenders are facing now has 
"proliferated."

   "The scrutiny compared to when I was vetted is so much more intense and 
potentially troublesome for a VP candidate," he said.

   Biden's search process is still in a relatively early phase. A search 
committee has been meeting with power players on the left, with special 
attention to Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill and across organized labor. 
Biden, who has largely been cloistered at his home in Delaware during the 
pandemic, would also like to conduct in person meetings with finalists.

   "It's important for him to see the candidate, talk to the candidate, get 
body language from the candidate. And I don't mean one time. I think it needs 
to be several times," said Cedric Richmond, a Louisiana congressman and 
campaign co-chair.

 
 
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