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Top Biden VP contenders face sexist tropes, intense scrutiny in final stretch

August 2, 2020. Summarized by summa-bot.

Joe Biden's decision on his vice presidential running mate is drawing closer by the day, and the tensions over his pick spilled into public view this past week, as the women who are his top contenders navigate sexist tropes about their ambition and intense scrutiny of their pasts.

For many months as Biden considered nearly a dozen women for the ticket, California Sen. Kamala Harris seemed like the most natural fit because of her resume, her visibility supporting the Black Lives Matter protests, and her championing of legislation to curb police brutality.

But over the past week, long-held uneasiness among some close Biden allies about Harris' ambition and her attack on Biden during a June 2019 debate broke into the open.

Then this weekend, it was California Rep. Karen Bass' turn in the hot seat, as the Trump campaign highlighted her trips to Cuba as a young activist and questioned whether Biden would "put Castro-loving Communist Karen Bass a heartbeat away from the presidency" -- underscoring the potential risks for Biden in choosing a politician who is largely unknown as the other side races to define them.

Though Biden's team has kept the process secret, the former vice president made it clear from the beginning that he would pick a woman, and his team has vetted Bass, Harris and former Obama national security adviser Susan Rice -- who are widely viewed as top contenders -- as well as Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Illinois Sen. Tammy Duckworth and Florida Rep. Val Demings.

The public airing of that grievance -- as well as widely circulated comments from some Biden backers that Harris is too ambitious and might be too focused on her own designs for the White House -- led to pushback from her allies this past week and from Harris herself on Friday.

On Friday and Saturday, Biden's Republican opponents unearthed the opposition research against Bass, who has strong support from both Democratic Party leadership and rank-and-file members after her years of experience in Congress, as chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, and as former Speaker of the California Assembly.

In anticipation of Biden's announcement of his pick as early as next week, the Trump campaign spent the weekend highlighting past comments about Cuba and Fidel Castro by Bass, who first went to Cuba in 1973 as a young activist to build houses with a group known as the Venceremos Brigade.

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