Joe Biden commits to picking a female vice president

Joe Biden speaks at a community event Jan. 21 at the Gateway Conference Center in Ames.

Mallory Tope

In the 2020 presidential election, a woman’s name will not appear on the ballot for president for either of the major parties but could still appear for vice president. 

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard announced the end of her candidacy last week, leaving no women in the running for president, but during the last presidential debate hosted March 15 in Washington, D.C., former Vice President Joe Biden said he would choose a woman as his vice president. 

“If I’m elected president, my cabinet, my administration will look like the country, and I commit that I will, in fact, appoint a — I’d pick a woman to be vice president,” said Biden during the debate. “There are a number of women who are qualified to be president tomorrow.”

Sen. Bernie Sanders during the last debate did not commit to having a woman as his running mate but said, “In all likelihood, I will,” when asked about whether he would choose a woman to be his running mate.

“Sanders hurt his case a little but was smart in considering other factors for a running mate and not just gender,” said Mack Shelley, professor and chair of the political science department.

Biden has yet to announce who his running mate will be, but potential candidates are Sen. Kamala Harris, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, 2018 Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, said Shelley. 

“Choosing a running mate, Biden must consider what each running mate could bring to his campaign and help him win the presidential race,” Shelley said. 

Each potential vice presidential candidate could bring more voters to Biden’s campaign, Shelley said.  

“Harris is a logical possibility for Biden; she is more progressive and adds diversity to the ballot,” Shelley said. “Klobuchar could help Biden gain more support from the Midwest if he chooses her as his running mate.”  

Having a female vice president could excite voters, especially female voters, to vote for Biden, said Kelly Winfrey, assistant professor in the Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication.

“Women are over half of all Americans and are still underrepresented in positions of leadership,” said Steffen Schmidt, professor in political science. “Women are a huge voter base for Democratic candidates; it is a wise decision.” 

According to CNN 2018 exit polls, 59 percent of females and 47 percent of males voted for Democratic candidates for Congress in that year’s midterm elections. 

“Biden’s statement is significant since his running mate would be only the third women to be nominated as vice president within political parties,” Winfrey said.

The U.S. has never had a female president or vice president. Only two women have been vice presidential nominees for major parties: former New York Rep. Geraldine Ferraro and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.  

Ferraro won the vice presidential nomination for the Democratic party in 1984, with Ferraro running with Walter Mondale. In 2008, Palin won the Republican party vice-presidential nomination and ran alongside Sen. John McCain.

In 2016, Hillary Clinton became the first woman to win her party’s nomination for president. Clinton won the 2016 presidential election’s popular vote but lost against Donald Trump in the electoral college.

“[Female] candidates are getting closer and closer to scoring major points in politics,” Shelley said.