Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden is assigning four close campaign allies to head up the process leading to one of his most important decisions: picking a running mate.
Biden, who served as Barack Obama’s vice president, chose one of his former Senate colleagues, two elected politicians of colour and a former aide to run a panel that scours the backgrounds of those who could be the first U.S. female vice president.
The panel’s co-chairs are U.S. Representative Lisa Blunt Rochester, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, former U.S. Senator Chris Dodd and aide Cynthia Hogan, his campaign said in a statement on Thursday.
The former vice president has vowed to choose a woman for the role and hopes to complete vetting by July.
His choice has spurred special interest among voters on the campaign trail, who regularly ask who he will pick and sometimes express concern whether Biden, 77, would serve the maximum of two terms of four years each if elected president.
“These four co-chairs reflect the strength and diversity of our party, and will provide tremendous insight and expertise to what will be a rigorous selection and vetting process,” Biden’s campaign manager, Jen O’Malley Dillon, said in a statement.
None of the names is a surprise. Dodd, now an independent lawyer, was a longtime Senate colleague and friend of Biden’s.
Hogan was Biden’s top lawyer when he was vice president and was also involved in the process to get Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Sonia Sotomayor, confirmed in the Senate.
Blunt Rochester and Garcetti are already co-chairs of the campaign, regularly serving as Biden’s spokespeople.
Blunt Rochester is from Biden’s home state of Delaware and black.
Garcetti, who is Latino, is talked about among possible future Democratic presidential candidates. Both ethnic groups are critical voting groups for Democrats.
Another one of the broader campaign co-chairs, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, is among those Biden is thinking about picking as a possible running mate.
Others tipped for consideration include Senators Amy Klobuchar, Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren. Each once fought Biden for his party’s presidential nomination.
The committee will closely scrutinise possible candidates for actions that could imperil Biden’s election odds ahead of his Nov. 3 face-off with Republican President Donald Trump.
Biden has likened the vetting process to “a public colonoscopy.”
The chairs will consult “a network of vetting teams” led by longtime Biden friend and lawyer Bob Bauer, campaign general counsel Dana Remus and former Homeland Security adviser Lisa Monaco, the campaign said.