SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters Breakingviews) - Joe Biden’s vice presidential pick will face stiff competition to succeed him. The Democratic nominee chose U.S. Senator Kamala Harris of California as his running mate. His age gives the role more standing. But other White House wannabes may also land senior government jobs if Biden wins in November against President Donald Trump.
Biden’s No. 2 has to be more than just a complementary campaigner. The former vice president will be 78 if he becomes the next commander-in-chief, making him the oldest first-term president in U.S. history. He hasn’t specifically pledged to serve only one term if he wins, but it’s a possibility.
Harris is just one of several rivals to Biden for the Democratic nomination who could join his administration. A former prosecutor and state attorney general, she is the first Black woman on a major presidential ticket. She is amply qualified to be there. But that won’t be enough to fend off competition come 2024.
Former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who did better than other Washington veterans during the Democratic presidential primary, could land a senior job as a diplomat or in national security, along with Susan Rice, former President Barack Obama’s national security adviser who was also in the running to be Biden’s veep. Wall Street critic Senator Elizabeth Warren and entrepreneur Andrew Yang, who championed universal basic income, may take senior economic posts.
That would be in the “Team of Rivals” mold, a phrase used by Doris Kearns Goodwin for the title of her biography of President Abraham Lincoln. An administration with a deep bench provides options, just as it does at companies. At JPMorgan, for instance, co-Presidents Daniel Pinto and Gordon Smith are among the executives who could take over for Chief Executive Jamie Dimon, the 64-year-old boss. Others in the mix include consumer lending chief Marianne Lake, Chief Financial Officer Jennifer Piepszak and Mary Callahan Erdoes, who runs asset and wealth management.
The competition can, of course, become a distraction: Too many egotistical cooks can turn into factions. As America’s would-be CEO, Biden can, however, set the tone for focusing on fixing the post-pandemic economy. Succeeding on that front benefits the next leader of the Democratic party – whoever that may be.
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