Susan Rice and Karen Bass have surged in the betting market of Predict in the Biden Veepstakes.
Bass has surged to 3rd and Rice has narrowed her once much larger gap with Kamala Harris.
Per Greenwich Time, in the Oval Office many mornings, as Joe Biden sat in a chair nextto President Barack Obama, Susan Rice would take her usual spot on a nearby couch and brief them on sensitive national security issues. At other times in the Situation Room, Rice and Biden would sit directly across the table from one another, according to people with knowledge of the setup.
As vice president, Biden would pop into Rice’s neighboring office in the White House for some light banter with the national security adviser – or heavier talk about the difficult issues confronting the Obama administration.
Years later, that relationship has made Rice an unlikely finalist to become Biden’s running mate and the first African American woman on a major party ticket, according to people with knowledge of the process and other Biden allies. She has never been elected to political office but has a credential none of her rivals can boast: a lengthy history as Biden’s colleague at the highest levels of government.
“Biden spent years essentially beginning his day with a briefing from Susan Rice,” said former Obama deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes. “So he definitely knows her.”
Biden has frequently said he is looking for a running mate with whom he is “simpatico” and that he aspires to re-create the dynamic he shared with Obama, to whom he was a friend and adviser. That could cut both ways for Rice, who disagreed with Biden on some key foreign policy issues during Obama’s first term, when she served as U.N. ambassador, but also forged a kinship with him, particularly once she moved to the White House in 2013, according to colleagues.
Rice has been a frequent guest on television news shows in recent months, impressing Biden allies who were unsure how she would fare under heightened public scrutiny. To broaden her public persona beyond the foreign policy issues that have dominated her career, Rice has written op-eds on issues such as voting rights, racial justice, D.C. statehood and the Trump administration’s performance in dealing with the coronavirus pandemic.
She’s a politician who cringes at having her picture taken and is content to let others grab headlines. She repeatedly had to be dragged into taking risks to elevate her political career.
In many ways, Karen Bass is the anti-Kamala Harris.
And yet, the Californians have ended up in a similar spot: On Joe Biden’s vice presidential shortlist.
While the congresswoman from Los Angeles remains a long shot, her unassuming approach, muted ambitions and decades of advocating on health care and race issues while far outside the national spotlight have captured the interest of the Biden campaign.
A former physician assistant and nurse who now heads the Congressional Black Caucus, Bass has seen her profile rise of late amid the twin crises of the coronavirus pandemic and national reckoning with racism. Her standing in the VP search has improved based on private assessments shared with Biden’s team.
“The reason she’s gone from a name bandied about to a serious contender is because the more you look at her, the more you realize what a perfect choice for the time she is,” said former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. He started working alongside Bass in the early 1970s to coalesce Black and Latino activists around curbing police abuse and expanding immigrant rights.
Bass lacks the political operation and national network of top rivals for the job. But she’s also made clear that, like Biden, she could be viewed as a transitional figure in the Democratic Party who currently harbors little interest in seeking the White House herself when he leaves office.
She’s already undergone intense scrutiny from the campaign — including a half-day interview with Biden representatives that a friend described as “invasive” — and has advanced deep into the vice presidential process, according to three people familiar with the vetting.
Some of the people contacted by the Biden team about Bass said some of her personal qualities starkly contrast with Harris: that she’s persuasive but not flashy, and that she’s trusted by progressives but still respected by Republicans. These people describe Bass as passionate, yet not someone who would allow her own objectives to overshadow her responsibilities as Biden’s No. 2.