Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden is expected to interview the finalists to be his running mate in the coming days, according to a person familiar with the process, as allies of the top contenders redoubled their efforts to push Biden toward their favored choice.
The announcement is not likely to come next week, according to two other people familiar with the matter. Biden and his vice presidential selection will formally accept the party’s nomination at the Democrats’ national convention, scheduled for Aug. 17-20, and he is expected to announce his pick before it begins.
U.S. Representative Karen Bass, a Black lawmaker from California who was not seen as a candidate early on, has risen to the top tier alongside two other Black women, Senator Kamala Harris and former national security adviser Susan Rice, according to Democratic officials and Biden allies.
A half dozen other women also remain under consideration, including senators Elizabeth Warren and Tammy Duckworth, U.S. Representative Val Demings, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham and Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer.
A campaign spokesman declined to comment on the search.
Biden’s choice, the most weighty of his political career, has drawn an unusual amount of attention given his age. If he defeats Republican President Donald Trump in November’s election, he would be 78 on inauguration day next January, the oldest U.S. president in history, and it is possible he may only seek one four-year term.
Supporters of each candidate have privately lobbied Biden. Just this week, more than a dozen California officials, labor leaders and business officials spoke with the people leading Biden’s vetting committee to back Harris, according to a person familiar with the matter.
The call was set up by the state’s lieutenant governor, Eleni Kounalakis, after she saw reports questioning whether Harris’ presidential ambitions made her less suited for the No. 2 role.
Harris, for her part, used a Friday appearance at Black Girls 2020, an online conference for young Black women, to seemingly push back against that complaint, which some critics saw as misogynistic.
“There will be resistance to your ambition,” she said. “But don’t you let that burden you.”
The controversy prompted Biden’s campaign manager, Jennifer O’Malley Dillon, to write on Twitter this week, “Ambitious women make history, change the world, and win.”
Biden himself was prepared to defend Harris at a campaign event on Tuesday, where a photograph captured a notecard in his hand listing talking points praising her talents.