Former Vice President Joe Biden told ABC News over the weekend that he had “apologized” to his challenger for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), for acting as though the Democratic primary is “officially over,” and for starting the hunt for a running mate, even as Sanders remains in the race.
Sanders, of course, is running well behind Biden in the delegate count but says his team believes there’s still a “narrow path” to the nomination, largely because so many states have either canceled or postponed their primaries, leaving it nearly impossible for Biden to win 1,991 delegates before the August convention.
Likely fearing that Sanders’ supporters won’t make the jump to Biden if the former Veep assumes the mantle too quickly, Biden reportedly reached out to Sanders to give him an update on the search for a running mate and to assure Sanders that the contest was far from over.
“I was apologizing because it was a bit presumptuous of me to be setting up a committee to go through the process of deciding and doing the background checks on potential nominees,” Biden said.
“I was apologizing to him by saying, ‘Bernie, I don’t want to in any way to demean your effort but if we don’t start now, we’re not going to be able to get there,'” he continued.
Biden is, per a pledge made during the last Democratic debate, only considering female running mates, so Sanders, despite being the likely second place finisher in the race for the nomination, isn’t being vetted for the slot. Instead, Biden is reportedly speaking with Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), as well as a handful of unnamed others.
Biden, of course, is the presumptive Democratic nominee, but that isn’t enough to convince Bernie, Biden told ABC News.
“It was about saying to him, ‘Bernie, I feel somewhat foolish since, although I’m the overwhelming likelihood to get the nomination, that in fact it’s not officially done yet and I’m moving forward with a committee for vice presidential selection,'” Obama’s former Vice President told the network.
Democrats are, it seems, pressuring Sanders to leave the race, in order to make it easier for Biden to take on a national campaign. The longer Biden remains locked in a battle for the nomination, the shorter Biden’s national campaign against Trump will be — particularly given that the Democratic National Convention has already been pushed back a month, until the end of August, to accommodate coronavirus-related lockdowns.
Even Sanders’ campaign manager, Faiz Shakir, has been pressuring the Vermont socialist to step out of the way, per reports from last week. Sanders, though, believes that the 2016 nomination was stolen and wants to litigate the 2020 nomination as far as possible.
Biden’s biggest challenge for the nomination, though, may not be Sanders. Democrats, concerned that the hapless Biden, who has all but disappeared from the airwaves amid the coronavirus pandemic, may not pose a strong challenge to Trump, are quietly pressing New York governor Andrew Cuomo into service, on the theory that Cuomo’s handling of the coronavirus crisis in New York gives him greater gravitas — and a better chance at beating Trump.