Clyburn says Biden should pick a woman to be his running mate

·Reporter
·4 min read

Rep. Jim Clyburn says that Joe Biden should pick a woman as his running mate should he win the Democratic nomination.

“I doubt very seriously you’ll see a Democratic slate this year without a woman on it,” Clyburn, the third highest-ranking Democrat in the House of Representatives, told Yahoo News’ “Skullduggery” podcast.

Clyburn added that he also wanted the Democratic nominee for vice president to be a person of color, and that he already had a candidate in mind for the bottom half of a Biden ticket.

“I would love for it to be a person of color,” Clyburn said. But when pressed on who he wanted as Biden’s running mate, Clyburn demurred.

“I’m not telling you,” he said. He also said he had “not discussed the VP stuff” with Biden.

The uniquely valuable endorsement from Clyburn — the highest-ranking black member of Congress — helped propel Biden’s struggling campaign to impressive victories in South Carolina and on Super Tuesday. The congressman has long been South Carolina’s most powerful Democrat, and exit polls indicated that a massive number of primary voters in the Palmetto State were influenced by his endorsement of Biden.

Biden’s landslide win in South Carolina led to an astonishing surge in the polls and a string of come-from-behind victories in the Super Tuesday primaries. He is now locked in a two-man race for the Democratic nomination alongside Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Clyburn also shared his thoughts on why Biden fared poorly in the first three Democratic nominating contests. According to Clyburn, news stories last spring featuring women who said Biden had made them uncomfortable “constrained” the former vice president.

“I saw a candidate that was not a reflection of the man himself,” Clyburn said of Biden’s early campaigning. “I spent a lot of time with Joe Biden over the years. ... My late wife, who’s a real political partner of mine, saw in Joe everything that you want to see in a political leader, but none of that was coming through. He was just getting just destroyed. And I thought it had a lot to do with his having become a victim of the #MeToo movement.”

Biden’s tendency toward physical displays of affection, such as his tendency to hug strangers, caused him some problems early in the race. But Clyburn said Biden is “just a feeler, toucher kind of guy.” He added that his late wife, Emily England Clyburn, loved Biden and his warm physical presence, but that gift for retail politics was missing throughout his early state campaigning.

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“He had his hands in his pockets, afraid to touch anybody,” Clyburn said of Biden. “In that very first debate, he got, as we say down in the hood, he got hit upside the head with the busing thing.”

Clyburn said that when he endorsed Biden, he also gave him some advice: “Loosen up.”

“He is being scripted because I watch him looking at his notes too much,” Clyburn said. “You don’t have the long-term experience that he’s had in state government or federal government and not know these issues. And so I felt very strongly that he needed to be himself, he needed to loosen up.”

Clyburn said that he once got similar advice from his wife.

“I’ve seen even that night there in South Carolina, he walked the rope line, people were grabbing him and hugging him and showing their feelings,” Clyburn said. “You just can’t walk around with your hands in your pockets when people are showing their feelings, and I just thought ... maybe that was just him wanting to be too careful. And of course those notes, somebody was writing them.

“So my whole thing is, my wife made me stop giving written speeches. My wife just told me one day, says, ‘I want you to stop reading speeches. You read them in your car, read them at home, but when you stand before that mic and look at the audience, I want you looking at them and I want you talking to them. You can’t talk to them if you’re reading everything.’”

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