Joe Biden has promised to pick a woman as his running mate and has faced increasing pressure to choose a black woman, but he also wants a VP candidate who will stay in her place and won't steal his spotlight.
The Atlantic reports that Biden's campaign is seriously considering Rep. Karen Bass (D., Calif.) as a potential running mate for one crucial reason: She doesn't want to be president.
Biden has wanted to be president for almost 40 years. Now that the White House finally seems within reach, he does not want to be outshone, according to people who know him. He wants to win, but he wants the win to be about him, not his running mate.
VP candidates typically don't matter much in presidential elections, but Biden's advanced age (77) and noticeable cognitive decline make his decision particularly consequential. Biden has hinted that he only plans to serve one term as president if he wins, so he essentially will be anointing the next Democratic nominee for president.
Many of the women of color the Biden campaign is reportedly considering for the VP slot—such as Sen. Kamala Harris (D., Calif.), Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.), and failed gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams—have clearly demonstrated their ambitions to become president.
Bass, on the other hand, is less nakedly ambitious. She told the Atlantic she "cannot envision" running for president in 2024 or 2028. "I mean, I'm 66. I can't see that."
Ironically enough, former president Barack Obama chose Biden as his running mate based on a similar calculation. He wanted a VP who "would not maneuver for the presidency from the No. 2 slot," according to the New York Times. In fact, Biden went so far as to offer a "loyalty pledge" and vowed to support any decision Obama made, and to "follow it to my death."
Hillary Clinton, the ruthlessly ambitious politician who had tried to prevent Obama from making history as the first black president, was never considered as a VP candidate. Instead, Obama made her secretary of state in order to "put her near, but not so very near, the seat of power."
Biden is not Obama, in more ways than one. But if Biden really thinks his potential victory in November would be "about him"—as opposed to the simple fact that he is not Donald Trump—perhaps the two Democrats are similarly matched in the egomania department.