The Slatest

Biden Tells Sanders He Will Begin Vetting Potential VP Candidates

Democratic presidential hopeful former Vice President Joe Biden is seen on stage as he and Senator Bernie Sanders take part in the 11th Democratic Party 2020 presidential debate in a CNN Washington Bureau studio in Washington, DC on March 15, 2020.
Democratic presidential hopeful former Vice President Joe Biden is seen on stage as he and Senator Bernie Sanders take part in the 11th Democratic Party 2020 presidential debate in a CNN Washington Bureau studio in Washington, DC on March 15, 2020.
MANDEL NGAN/Getty Images

Joe Biden said he has told Bernie Sanders that he will move forward with starting to vet potential vice presidential contenders as well as Cabinet members. At a virtual fundraising event Friday night, Biden said he would announce a committee to vet potential running mates “sometime in the middle of the month.”

Although the former vice president has a clear and pretty much insurmountable lead over Sanders in the nomination battle, he made it clear Friday night he knows he isn’t quite there yet. And that is why he thought it was important to let Sanders know he would be moving forward with the vetting process. “I don’t want him to think I’m being presumptuous, but you have to start now deciding who you’re going to have background checks done on as potential vice presidential candidates, and it takes time,” Biden said. It marked the first time that Biden acknowledged he had one-on-one conversations with Sanders in recent weeks.

Biden also said he’s had discussions with people about potential Cabinet positions. “One of the things I learned a long time ago, and I really mean this, a good leader has to be willing to have people that are smarter than them, know more than they know about a subject, bring in people who in fact have an expertise you don’t have,” Biden said. When asked how he would push back against concerns about his age, the 77-year-old Biden said that he wanted to “build a bench of younger, really qualified people who haven’t had the exposure that others have had but are fully capable of being the leaders of the next four, eight, 12, 16 years to run the country.” Biden also suggested diversity in his Cabinet would be important, insisting he wants those he picks to “look like the country.”

Updating supporters about the campaign, Biden also acknowledged that the coronavirus crisis has meant that voters are seeing a lot more of President Donald Trump than the Democratic contenders these days. “I got a lot of people who are supporters getting very worried,” Biden said. “‘Where’s Joe? Where’s Joe? The president’s every day holding these long press conferences.’” The former vice president said supporters were worried that Trump’s approval ratings were increasing but he expressed confidence that wouldn’t last long. “Those numbers aren’t going up anymore” because “the things he’s saying are turning out not to be accurate and people are getting very upset by it.”