Susan Rice Closing in on Kamala Harris as Vice-Presidential Favorite

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Key Points:
  • Who Joe Biden will choose to be his running mate is the last crucial unknown hanging over the 2020 presidential election cycle.
  • The Democratic nominee’s age and rumored cognitive decline make Biden’s Vice-Presidential pick especially important, as this person may very well be asked to take over the ticket – if not the Oval Office.
  • Kamala Harris remains the favorite to get the nomination at –125, but Susan Rice is hot on her heels — jumping to +200 after hovering around +1600 for the past few months.

Just as Kamala Harris appeared to have the Democratic VP nomination in the bag, there have been some significant shakeups among the front-runners. The California Senator remains the favorite to be named Joe Biden’s running mate, but not by as wide a margin as earlier this month.

Rolling into June, Val Demings — listed at +400 odds– was thought to be Harris’s primary competition for the job; now Susan Rice has surged from a +1600 longshot to Kamala’s most threatening challenger at +200 moneyline odds.

Option To Become Dem VP Nomination
Kamala Harris -125
Susan Rice +200
Val Demings/td> +750
Karen Bass +1400
Elizabeth Warren +1600
Keisha Lance Bottoms +1600
Stacey Abrams +2000
Lujan Grisham +2500
Michelle Obama +3300
Tammy Duckworth +3300
Hillary Clinton +5000
Tammy Baldwin +5000
Barack Obama +6600
Tulsi Gabbard +10000
  • Odds from BetOnline as of 6/26

Klobuchar Exits, Takes Sen. Warren with Her

Susan Rice’s rise as a serious contender to be named Joe Biden’s running mate can be traced back to the opening night of protests in Minneapolis, where Amy Klobuchar once worked as a prosecutor. Before police officers killed George Floyd, the Minnesota Senator was considered one of the favorites to joining the Democratic ticket – trailing only Kamala Harris at political betting sites.

Klobuchar launched a presidential campaign of her own in 2020 and was arguably overperforming in the early states before agreeing to drop out on behalf of the DNC’s coordinated consolidation of the party’s moderate lane just before Super Tuesday.

Many believed her loyalty would be rewarded with a Vice-Presidential nomination. That the Senator is a relatively conservative Democrat in an electorally crucial Midwestern state – and a woman! — made her an obvious choice for party officials.

At least, she was before the cries got louder for Joe Biden to go beyond merely selecting a female running mate.

Calls for a Woman of Color

Now, many liberals want the nominee to be a person of color as well. It only seems right considering how much Biden – and the Democratic Party, at large – rely on Black voters.

Then, Joe appeared on a popular “urban radio” morning show called “The Breakfast Club.” During the conversation, the former VP responded to some pointed questions by telling the African American host, “if you have a problem figuring out whether you’re for me or Trump, then you ain’t black.”

So, even before the nationwide demonstrations broke out, the pressure was building for Biden to show his appreciation for Black voters — especially after gaffes like that one.

When George Floyd’s death became national news, the Senator’s fate was sealed.

Upon further examination, it became known that during her time as a district attorney, Klobuchar had declined to bring charges against a police officer that shot and killed a Native American man. The officer’s name was Derek Chauvin – the same man who murdered George Floyd.

Betting Impact

Amy Klobuchar’s betting odds tanked almost instantly – from +300 to +900, dropping her from being the second-favorite to lower than Val Demings, Michelle Obama, and Elizabeth Warren.

Sen. Klobuchar was written off by political pundits as a viable running mate a few days later, once it was clear the Black Lives Matter protests and heightened racial tensions were here to stay.

Finally, roughly three weeks after Floyd’s death, the former presidential hopeful conceded for the second time this election cycle.

“Since I endorsed the vice president on that joyful night in Dallas, I’ve never commented on this process at all,” the Senator told MSNBC on Thursday night. “But let me tell you this after what I’ve seen in my state, what I’ve seen across the country. This is a historic moment, and America must seize on this moment.”

“I think this a moment to put a woman of color on that ticket,” – Sen. Amy Klobuchar

Joe Biden responded to the withdrawal by effusively praising and thanking the Senator via Twitter.

Klobuchar’s resignation ended more than her own dreams of being Biden’s Vice President. By emphasizing the urgency of nominating a woman of color to the Democratic ticket, she made sure to take Elizabeth Warren – another top-tier VP candidate — down with her!

Biden Forced to Pick a Side through VP Nomination

Warren represented an interesting option for the Biden campaign. Right now, they’re determining to which side of the political spectrum their Vice-Presidential pick should signal. Odds are they’ll stay the centrist course, continuing to reassure affluent liberals and moderate Republicans that the DNC won’t get pulled left.

Harris, Demings, Abrams, and Rice all fit that corporatist Democrat archetype.

If the numbers show Biden’s general election odds benefit more from making overtures to the progressive, “Bernie Sanders” wing of the political spectrum, however, Elizabeth Warren is the ideal pick.

Despite the bad blood generated during the primaries, she’d convince a significant percentage of previously self-proclaimed “Bernie or Bust” voters to suck-it-up and support the Democrats. Enough time has passed — and enough crises have erupted – to make the possibility of a “compromise candidate” more appealing – even if she screwed over Bernie.

Sen. Warren isn’t much of an option now.

To ignore the pleas from Klobuchar (and others), DNC strategists would need to think using the VP nomination to signal left advances the campaign’s position further than appealing to Black and moderate/conservative suburbanites. (While also weighing-in the percentages of each group’s voters expected to “vote blue no matter who” either way).

Considering Biden’s enormous lead in the polls and the general disdain for President Trump displayed by left-leaning Democrats and Independents, the campaign will see “playing it safe” as the smart move.

If it ain’t broke…
Affluent suburbanite liberals and moderate “Never Trump” Republicans have been the establishment Democratic Party’s bread-and-butter since the 2018 midterms, through the DNC primaries – they’ve delivered Biden this far, why stop catering to them now?

The Democratic VP Nomination Front-Runners

The Biden campaign is all-but-committed to nominating a woman of color as his Vice President, which gives us a relatively limited pool of prospective candidates. Since the George Floyd protests, Kamala Harris as solidified her position as the favorite, followed closely by Val Demings – while Stacey Abrams has gradually fallen out of contention.

Harris and Demings are both essentially “cops,” however. Despite being women of color, both run the risk of losing the very minority voters to whom they’re meant to appeal when their resumes come under public scrutiny.

Kamala Harris -125

Kamala Harris was an unapologetically rigid law-and-order prosecutor and Attorney General in California. She’s responsible for the aggressive mass incarceration of people of color in her state for nearly a decade-and-a-half.

Val Demings +750

Val Demings spent 27 years working in law enforcement – beginning her career as a patrol officer and rising through the ranks, culminating in her appointment as Chief of the Orlando Police Department in 2007.

If you’ve paid any attention to the news recently, cops aren’t super popular at the moment.

Susan Rice +200

Susan Rice, as Joe Biden’s running mate, makes tons of sense from the perspective of establishment Democrats. She served on the National Security Council and was appointed Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs during Bill Clinton’s second term.

During the Obama administration, Rice was named the US Ambassador to the United Nations, before being named President Obama’s US National Security Advisor in 2013.

She won’t make leftists happy due to her role in helping destroy Libya and Syria. But let’s be honest, foreign policy offenses mean significantly less to clueless American voters than imperfections in one’s personal history.

A Country of Low-Info Voters

It’s easy to slap the “cop” label on Kamala Harris and Val Demings; it’s considerably less likely that the biased mainstream media will dissect Rice’s history as a typical establishment war hawk — not in any way that will turn off Democrats.

In the US, making decades of arrests patrolling the westside of Orlando is a much greater sin than sanctioning, bombing, and generally killing millions in the Middle East.

Susan Rice is perfect (if you’re a centrist liberal)!

A well-entrenched woman of color who spent time in both the Clinton and Obama administrations. The Vice Presidency is traditionally more of a domestically-oriented position, which might waste her foreign policy experience – in reality, she’s better suited to be Secretary of State — but I doubt that matters to voters.

Plus, with Joe Biden’s age and visible decline, Rice may be thrust into a more active foreign policy role anyway. Either way, what matters most is that Susan Rice shines “on paper.” Checks off all the right boxes and is connected to the Democrats’ beloved Barack Obama administration – nostalgia for which is the central theme of the Biden campaign.

My Pick:

Democratic Vice-Presidential Candidate – Susan Rice (+200)

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