Former US Vice President Joe Biden has pledged to nominate a woman as his running mate if he gets the Democratic Party's nomination to challenge President Donald Trump in the November election.
"I commit that I will, in fact, appoint a woman to be vice president," he said on Sunday, 15 March, during the Democratic debate directly facing off Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, his sole viable rival for the party nomination.
Women empowerment in the Senate
Senator Kamala Harris, who is of Indian and Jamaican-African descent, is considered one of the front-runners on a Biden ticket.
For example, The Washington Post's panel of experts known as "The Ranking Committee" on Friday, 14 March, said she and Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar were tied for the first choice as the likely Biden partner.
Sanders refused to make an explicit commitment to nominating a woman as his running mate, although he said: "In all likelihood, I will." It will be a matter of ideology, ensuring his Vice President candidate is a progressive, he said. "There are progressive women out there a" so my very strong tendencies would be to move in that direction."
Debate heat amidst the corona scare
The national anxiety over the coronavirus overshadowed the debate where the centrist Biden and the self-described democratic socialist Sanders clashed on ideology.
Biden said the nation needed a change, not a revolution, while Sanders said the status quo has to be undone. Their first one-on-one debate after the other candidates who had qualified for debates dropped out took place before Tuesday's party poll in Arizona.
Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the venue was moved to Washington from Arizona and held without an audience and ensuring they stood two metres apart to keep the distance recommended by experts.
Election works in progress
Presidential candidates pick a running mate who geographically or through experience or other factors brings a balance to the team and also to appeal to voters beyond their base.
In the current Democratic Party environment, Biden, who is from the east coast state of Delaware, would need a woman, preferentially a non-White, on his ticket which would put Harris as a top contender. On the other hand, Harris is from California and if he feels he may need someone from the middle of the country to cut Trump's base there, Klobuchar, who is white, would have an advantage.
There are also several other women who could meet the many qualifications at play.
The Vice President pick would be important in Biden's case as he is 77 years old and would be 81 if he is elected this year and seeks re-election in 2024. Sanders is a year older than him.
Harris ran for the Democratic Party's nomination and clashed with Biden in the early debates, but dropped out of last December and endorsed the former Vice President this month. Biden said he would appoint an African-American woman to the Supreme Court, which has only one African-American, Clarence Thomas, a conservative.
His cabinet, he said, would "look like the country", meaning it will reflect it gender and racial and ethnic make-up.
There were two women vice presidential candidates of major parties before and both lost. Republican Sarah Palin ran on John McCain's ticket in 2008 and Democrat Geraldine Ferraro ran with Walter Mondale in 1984.