Smile more? Some critics see sexism in debate over Biden VP

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FILE - In this Saturday, June 1, 2019 file photo, Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., speaks at an SEIU event before the 2019 California Democratic Party State Organizing Convention in San Francisco. Harris is only the second Black woman to serve in the Senate, and in 2020, a prominent contender for the vice-presidential ticket. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

CHICAGO – She's too ambitious. She's not apologetic enough. She should smile more.

The debate over Joe Biden's running mate has recently ticked through a familiar list of stereotypes about women in politics as the Democratic presidential candidate and his allies stumble through a search they had hoped would stand out for its inclusion and diversity.

Instead, the vice presidential vetting has resurfaced internal party divisions between the old-guard establishment and a younger generation that's more attuned to gender and racial biases and willing to speak out. Some contend it's just more evidence of why Biden needs a woman on his ticket.

“The fact is that although we’ve come really far in the last 100 years, we haven’t come far enough for women candidates to be treated with the same level of decency as the male candidates are," said Donna Brazile, a former Democratic National Committee chair.

Biden, the presumptive nominee and a former vice president himself, has said he will pick a woman as his number two and he would probably reach a decision this week, though a formal announcement could come later.

The scrutiny of his choices has intensified in recent weeks, while allies have weighed in, sometimes in ways that feed the tensions.

On Monday, Ed Rendell, a former Democratic Party chairman and a Biden ally, was quoted in The Washington Post noting that there has been recent buzz about former National Security Adviser Susan Rice. He observed that Rice was smiling during a TV appearance, “something that she doesn’t do all that readily,” and that she was “actually somewhat charming.”

Rendell, 76, has commented on another candidate's demeanor, too, telling CNN last week that California Sen. Kamala Harris can “rub people the wrong way.”