Joe Biden has secret meeting with Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer days ahead of picking running mate
The presumptive presidential candidate, who is expected to choose a woman of color, met the popular governor who is also in the VP run
While speculation is on that presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden will pick a woman of color as his running mate for this year’s election, the political and media circles have found it surprising that Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer secretly met the former at his Delaware residence on August 2. This was the first instance when the former veep made his first-known in-person meeting with a potential running mate.
The visit of Whitmer, often seen as one of the Democratic Party’s rising stars, was reported by two high-ranking members of the party in Michigan as told by Associated Press. Flight records showed a chartered plane leave Lansing's Capital Region International Airport, Michigan, for Delaware Coastal Airport at 5.33 pm and return at 11.16 pm last Sunday, August 2, AP added. Whitmer’s office did not either decline nor confirm the trip and spokesperson Tiffany Brown said her personal schedule won’t be discussed, while Biden’s campaign also refrained from making a remark.
Whitmer, who will turn 49 this month, is the 49th governor of the battleground state and has been serving since January last year. One of the most popular White governors in the country at the moment, Whitmer endorsed Biden for president in March and became one of his national campaign chairs.
Biden’s team has been seriously zeroing on the potential running mate and the Democrat is expected to announce the name of his vice-presidential pick this week. The potential vice president is expected to make a lot of headlines given Biden wins the November contest against incumbent president Donald Trump not only because it would be a woman but also because Biden, 77, has clarified that he would only be a one-term president.
Biden was expected to pick a woman of color as his running mate
However, Whitmer’s reported meeting with Biden has given birth to fresh speculations since Biden has been under pressure to pick a woman of color as his No 2, especially in the wake of the widespread Black Lives Matter movement across the cities in the US after George Floyd was killed in Minneapolis. Biden has a strong following among the Black community and not picking a woman representing it could hurt the former veep’s prospects. Besides, as InsiderNJ columnist Alan Steinberg has said in a column published on Sunday, August 2, former president Barack Obama has been strongly lobbying Biden to pick his former UN ambassador and national security adviser Susan Rice, a woman of color.
California Senator Kamala Harris, California Representative Karen Bass, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, Florida Representative Val Demings and former Minority Leader of Georgia House of Representatives Stacey Abrams are some of the women of color who are in the run to clinch the vice presidential nomination. Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar, who was also in the race for the vice presidential pick, dropped out of the race in June telling Biden that the time was suitable for picking a woman of color as his running mate.
Whitmer has been vocal against the Trump administration’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic. She has sought to address racism and racial inequality. She has not been deterred by life threats for imposing lockdown during the pandemic and also proposed police reforms in the wake of Floyd’s death. Last week, she called racism a public health crisis after meeting Biden and set up an advisory council comprising Black leaders and sought implicit bias training for all state employees, AP added. Whitmer’s profile particularly grew after she delivered her party’s response to Trump’s State of the Union address in February.
Jim Clyburn could help Biden to get backing for Whitmer
According to Steinberg, one prominent person who can give Biden the “political cover” to pick Whitmer and still get the backing of the African-American community is House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn. The 80-year-old leader is a highly influential figure in the Democratic camp and it was his endorsement of Biden that saw the latter turning the tables in the primaries by winning big in Clyburn's state South Carolina in February.
Clyburn, called the ‘Kingmaker’, played a big role in helping Biden to sweep the first Super Tuesday by mobilizing the African-American vote.
“The Biden South Carolina/Super Tuesday sweep gave him the nomination and Jim Clyburn the status of 2020 National Political Player of the year. And now, if as I suspect, Joe Biden wants to select Gretchen Whitmer as his running mate, he should first call Jim Clyburn,” Steinberg wrote in his column for NJ’s leading political website.