COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Former Vice President Joe Biden on Sunday committed to naming a woman as his running mate if he’s the Democratic presidential nominee, making a definitive assertion clamored for by some voters who have watched a historically diverse candidate field dwindle to two white men.
Biden made his pledge during Sunday night’s debate with Sen. Bernie Sanders in response to a video question from a voter about how he would handle women’s health issues. Asked the same question, Sanders didn’t definitively commit to having a female running mate but said, “In all likelihood, I will.”
Biden has previously said he would seriously consider naming a woman or a person of color as his running mate.
Also Sunday night, he repeated a previous pledge to nominate a black woman to the U.S. Supreme Court if given the chance to do so as president. During last month’s debate in Charleston, South Carolina, ahead of that state’s primary — where a victory gave Biden momentum that propelled him into Super Tuesday wins just days later — Biden said he was “looking forward” to making that a reality.
Throughout the lengthy primary campaign, Biden has often eschewed running mate talk as presumptuous, though he has at times posited several names. Asked by a voter at a campaign stop in Winterset, Iowa, in November, Biden described several prominent women he’d consider, were he to win the nomination.
“I could start naming people, but the press will think that’s who I picked,” Biden said, noting it was premature.
Still, he went on to suggest Stacey Abrams, who ran for Georgia governor in 2018, calling her “the woman who should have been the governor of Georgia.”
Likewise, he suggested, without giving their names, that he would consider former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates and the two senators from New Hampshire, Maggie Hassan and Jeanne Shaheen.
Another woman mentioned as a potential running mate is Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who gave the Democratic response to President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address last month. She is one of Biden’s national campaign co-chairs and leads a key battleground state.
Whitmer has said she is not interested in being Biden’s running mate. She said he should instead consider a woman of color such as Abrams, California Sen. Kamala Harris or Florida Rep. Val Demings.
“I’m going to help him vet and make sure he’s got a great running mate,” Whitmer said Monday on MSNBC. “It is not going to be me. But I am going to have a hand in helping him make sure that he has got the rounded-out ticket that can win.”
Meg Kinnard can be reached at http://twitter.com/MegKinnardAP
Associated Press writer David Eggert contributed to this report from Lansing, Mich.