How Joe Biden Chose Kamala Harris as VP

The potential for conflict between Biden and Harris advisers was resolved in another way, at least for now: Mr. Biden and his advisers made plain to Ms. Harris that they expected to have the same understanding with respect to staff hiring that Mr. Biden had followed with former President Barack Obama. During the campaign and, if they win, during a Biden-Harris administration, Ms. Harris’s staff hiring would be approved by Mr. Biden.

Jennifer O’Malley Dillon, Mr. Biden’s campaign manager, told Ms. Harris plainly after she was picked that they would be one team, and that she would have the full support of the Biden staff.

But selecting Ms. Harris for the vice presidency did not mean selecting her full political entourage for jobs in the campaign or government. That rule would apply, Ms. Harris was told, even to her sister, Maya Harris, a former Hillary Clinton adviser who is Kamala Harris’s closest confidante.

Revealing her own pragmatic core, Ms. Harris readily agreed to those terms.

Having been through a vice-presidential search himself, Mr. Biden was clear from the start about what he wanted in a running mate — and in a selection process. He wanted a full partner in government with whom he felt personally “simpatico.” He did not want a “Survivor”-style process of elimination whereby a large pool of candidates would be gradually slashed down, with the losers identified as such in public, according to people who spoke to him about the process.

And for the most part, that is what Mr. Biden got — a discreet search team, led by four Democratic dignitaries, that held interviews with about a dozen women, a smaller number of whom were then asked to turn over a huge volume of private documents for review. To ensure the contenders’ privacy, he did not allow even his senior staff members to see some of their most personal vetting information.

Mayor Eric Garcetti of Los Angeles, one of the members of the search team, said Mr. Biden had been emphatic that the process should unfold in a dignified manner that would leave all the participants better off.

“He was committed to this being a career elevation for everybody, and finding the right running mate, and he did both,” said Mr. Garcetti, who declined to comment on the details of the search.


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