Only twice in the post-1968 era of major-party presidential nomination races has a candidate seeking a major political party’s nomination for president picked a vice-presidential running mate before becoming either the nominee or presumptive nominee. Both instances involved Republican campaigns, and none of the presidential or vice-presidential candidates in question were nominated:
- In 1976, at that year’s Republican National Convention, Ronald Reagan picked Richard Schweiker as his running mate in an attempt to prevent Gerald Ford from winning the GOP presidential nomination. Ford won the GOP presidential nomination, and Republicans selected Bob Dole to be Ford’s running-mate.
- In 2016, in an attempt to keep a flailing presidential bid afloat late in the Republican presidential nomination race, Ted Cruz picked Carly Fiorina as his running mate. Donald Trump won the GOP presidential nomination and picked Mike Pence as his running-mate.
However, Axios’s Mike Allen is reporting that political advisers who are close to former Democratic Vice President Joe Biden are reportedly debating whether Biden should announce that Former Georgia House of Representatives Minority Leader Stacey Abrams, who narrowly lost last year’s Georgia gubernatorial election and delivered the English-language response to the State of the Union address earlier this year, will be his running mate at the same time Biden launches his bid for the Democratic presidential nomination:
Close advisers to former Vice President Joe Biden are debating the idea of packaging his presidential campaign announcement with a pledge to choose Stacey Abrams as his vice president.
Why it matters: The popular Georgia Democrat, who at age 45 is 31 years younger than Biden, would bring diversity and excitement to the ticket — showing voters, in the words of a close source, that Biden “isn’t just another old white guy.”Source
If Abrams were to be nominated and elected vice president, she would become the first woman to hold one of the two highest executive branch offices in the country, the highest-ranking elected woman in U.S. history, the first woman of color to hold one of the two highest executive branch offices in the country, the highest-ranking elected woman of color in U.S. history, and the first person of color to hold the office of Vice President. Also, there is no prior precedent that I know of for a high-profile candidate for a major-party presidential nomination picking a running mate very early on in the primary/caucus campaign.
I’m still undecided on who to support for the Democratic nomination for president next year, although I can understand the pros and cons of a candidate for a major political party’s nomination picking a running-mate very early on in the race for the nomination. The biggest advantage of running as a joint ticket is that voters will know when they go to vote in a primary or participate in a caucus who will be the vice-presidential nominee if the presidential candidate is nominated, but there are many disadvantages to picking a running-mate early on or right out of the gate. First off, picking a vice-presidential running mate at the same time or not long after launching a presidential bid would possibly be seen as a sign of the presidential candidate’s political weakness. Secondly, picking a vice-presidential running mate at the same time or not long after launching a presidential bid could be seen as an attempt by the presidential candidate to win the nomination before any votes are cast. Third, such a move could lead to a potentially embarrassing debate moment, as a debate moderator could ask why none of the other candidates in a very large field of candidates seeking the Democratic presidential nomination would be an acceptable running mate.
If Biden intends to pick a running-mate as he launches his campaign for the Democratic nomination, that would be the ultimate all-or-nothing gamble, to put it mildly.