VP Contender Tammy Duckworth Demurs on Biden Choosing Black Running Mate

Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), one of several politicians believed to be up for consideration to become Joe Biden's running mate in the 2020 election race, appeared to dodge a question on whether she believes he should pick a Black running mate.

Speaking on CNN on Sunday, Duckworth was asked to comment on a letter signed by hundreds of female Black leaders calling on Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee, to pick a Black woman as his running mate.

"It is a fact that the road to the White House is powered by Black women and Black women are the key to a Democratic victory in 2020," the signatories of the letter said.

Responding to the letter's call, Duckworth said she believed that "Black women are a key to the victory for Democrats."

"I look at how Doug Jones was elected and will be re-elected to the United States Senate," she said, referring to the role Black voters, and in particular Black women, played in propelling the Alabama politician to victory in his 2017 election win.

While Duckworth, an Iraq War veteran, said she believes Black women are "a key to the victory," she said ultimately the decision would be for Biden to make.

"The Biden campaign have their own process that they're going through and I'm sure Vice President Biden will pick the right person to be next to him as he digs this country of the of the mess that Donald Trump has put us in," she said.

For her part, Duckworth said she was prepared to do "whatever I need to do to get Biden into the Oval Office.

"Remember that we need a leader who's going to bind us back together, someone who has resilience, who has empathy, who has seen so many of the ups and downs for his own life and can connect with American people and Joe Biden is that person," she said. "I believe so strongly that we need to get him into the White House."

Pressed on whether that means she believes Biden needs to have a Black woman as a running mate to get him into the White House, Duckworth maintained that "Joe Biden needs to make his own mind and will make his own mind."

"I don't think it's on any of us to dictate to him. He knows best who he needs as a vice president who can help him connect with American people," she said.

Newsweek has contacted Duckworth's office for comment.

Currently, there are a number of potential contenders in the bid to become Biden's VP, including several Black women.

Among them are Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), Rep. Val Demings (D-FL), who previously served as the Chief of the Orlando Police Department and was the first woman to hold the title and Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA). Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and former National Security Advisor Susan Rice are also believed to be under consideration for the role.

Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) have also been floated as potential candidates, in addition to Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham.

Tammy Duckworth
Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) speaks during a weekly news conference on Capitol Hill on August 21, 2018 in Washington, D.C. Duckworth appeared to avoid saying whether she believes presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden should pick a Black woman as his running mate. Zach Gibson/Getty