House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) said Friday the running mate in presidential elections "has never mattered" as Joe Biden closes in on potentially naming a woman of color to a major ticket for the first time.
"I don't think it matters who the vice presidential candidate is historically. It has never mattered," Pelosi said on MSNBC. "Lyndon Johnson for victory, Sarah Palin for defeat, but by and large, it's really all about the two candidates for president, and I'm so proud of Joe Biden."
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Pelosi's remarks come as several top Biden allies have encouraged him to choose a black woman, in part to reward the demographic's loyalty to the Democratic Party. Biden is reportedly debating over choosing Sen. Kamala Harris (D., Calif.), former Obama national security adviser Susan Rice, and Rep. Karen Bass (D., Calif.), all of whom are black women. All three have come under intense scrutiny for their records, leading to complaints of unfair treatment and even racism.
Bass's star dropped after her past warm words about Cuba and dictator Fidel Castro, as well as her praise of the radical Church of Scientology. Harris is distrusted by some in the liberal base for her ambition and controversial criminal justice record, such as her aggressive prosecutions of marijuana users in California. Rice is haunted by false statements in 2012 about the Benghazi terrorist attack and her lack of elected office experience. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.) and Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer (D.), who are white, are also under consideration by Biden.
"I always defer to the judgment of the candidate in selecting the vice president, in terms of who he has confidence in, that he can work with, who could serve in case of emergency, and also that would do no harm in the presidential, but it's not, I think, making a difference," Pelosi said. "I'm very proud, though, that so many women of color are among those being—well, he has a vast array of talented people to choose from."
There have only been three women on major presidential tickets in U.S. history, all of which were unsuccessful. Two were vice-presidential candidates: Democrat Geraldine Ferraro in 1984 and Republican Sarah Palin in 2008. Democrat Hillary Clinton in 2016 was the first woman to be nominated for president by a major party.