Leading in pandemic becomes part of audition for Biden's VP

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Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

FILE - In this July 31, 2019 file photo, former Vice President Joe Biden speaks as Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., listens during the second of two Democratic presidential primary debates hosted by CNN in the Fox Theatre in Detroit. As presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden begins the process of choosing a running mate amid the coronavirus crisis, managing the pandemic has become its own version of an audition. For potential picks, lobbying for the job means breaking into the national conversation, positioning themselves as leaders and executing at their day job. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

CHICAGO – California Sen. Kamala Harris is raising money for presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden while speaking out about the disproportionate number of African Americans with COVID-19.

Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar has been praising the former vice president on television and Twitter as she unveils a plan to fight the coronavirus in rural America.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer went on “The Daily Show” to plead for help addressing the pandemic while wearing a T-shirt with a jab at President Donald Trump.

As Biden begins the process of choosing a running mate, responding to the COVID-19 pandemic has become an unexpected part of the audition. The women believed to be top candidates are competing for the job by trying to show off their leadership on issues thrust into the spotlight by the virus.

That’s easier for some than for others. The coronavirus has put politics on the back burner for many. Rallies and fundraisers — where potential vice presidential candidates might essentially audition for the position — are barely happening. Meanwhile, governors in the running might seem to have an advantage as their official day job becomes a public test of their ability to handle a crisis in the spotlight.

“Everything has changed, and this time calls for a No. 2 who can project confidence to voters that they can manage a pandemic,” said Adrienne Elrod, a Democratic strategist who was a senior adviser to Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign. “If you can show that you’re doing that effectively, that makes you a more attractive choice, obviously.”

There is only so much a potential running mate can do to influence a decision that ultimately comes down to who the candidate believes is the right choice. Biden has said he'll pick a woman. He may consider whether a senator hails from a state with a Democratic governor to ensure her replacement in the Senate would be from the same party.

But he also has stressed he's looking for someone who's “ready to be president on a moment’s notice.”