Kamala Harris or someone else? Who could replace Joe Biden if he steps aside

Tyler Mitchell By Tyler Mitchell Jul3,2024
Democrats shocked by have urged the United States president to be transparent about his mental fitness as he faces calls from his own side to drop out of the election.
Some supporters have expressed doubts about the 81-year-old after last week’s televised showdown with his , with Biden stumbling over his words and losing his train of thought — exacerbating fears about his age.
On Tuesday, Lloyd Doggett became the first congressional Democrat to publicly call on Biden to make way for another candidate, saying he was hopeful the president would “make the painful and difficult decision to withdraw”.

Former House speaker Nancy Pelosi said it was “legitimate” to ask whether Biden’s debate disaster was indicative of a deeper problem rather than a one-off — but that Trump should also face the same scrutiny.

On Tuesday, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre admitted the debate was “a bad night” but added that Biden “knows how to come back” from adversity.

She dismissed questions about him needing a cognitive test and said the president would hold a press conference during a NATO summit in Washington next week.

Biden has blamed exhaustion from international travel for his debate flop.
While his withdrawal from the race to the White House is still an improbable scenario, the rumour mill is pumping out possibilities as to who could replace him on the Democratic ticket.

These are the names being circulated.

Kamala Harris

US Vice President Kamala Harris wearing a blue blazer and blue top while speaking at a campaign rally

Kamala Harris made history as the US’ first woman vice president. Source: AAP / Ronda Churchill/AP

She seems like the obvious choice.

US vice president Kamala Harris, who has been a heartbeat away from the Oval Office since Biden’s January 2021 swearing-in, would be well positioned to be the Democratic Party’s new candidate.
The 59-year-old Harris, the daughter of a Jamaican father and an Indian mother, is a trailblazer.

She was the first black person and the first woman to serve as California’s attorney-general and then was the first US senator of South Asian descent.

During her career as a prosecutor, Harris had a reputation for being tough — a trait she could use to her advantage in a campaign expected to focus on crime and immigration.
Some progressive Democrats have been critical of her strict punishment of minor offenders, saying it disproportionately affected minorities.

Harris also suffers from a dismal approval rating, which could prompt Democrats to find another solution.

Gavin Newsom

A man with short grey hair in a navy suit with a white shirt

Gavin Newsom is currently the governor of California. Source: AAP / Jessica Christian/AP

There is no rule that a running mate automatically replaces the presidential candidate in the case of a withdrawal. This is why California governor Gavin Newsom’s name keeps popping up.

The 56-year-old Democrat, a former mayor of San Francisco, has been at the helm of the Golden State — the most populous in the US — for five years, and has made it a haven for abortion access.
So far, he has steadfastly supported Biden and dismissed talk of replacing him, saying in the wake of Biden’s dreadful debate performance last week against Donald Trump that such “conversations” are “unhelpful to our democracy”.
But Newsom has also made little secret of his own presidential ambitions.

In recent months, he has increased his international travel, run multiple ads touting his record, and invested millions of dollars in a political action committee, fuelling speculation that he will run in 2028. So why not 2024?

Gretchen Whitmer

A woman with long brown hair, wearing a sparkly silver top and a blue blazer while speaking at a lecturn

Gretchen Whitmer is currently the governor of Michigan. Source: AAP / Al Goldis/AP

Another possible Democratic candidate is Gretchen Whitmer, the 52-year-old governor of Michigan.

Her state has both a strong working-class population and major black and Arab-American communities — all key groups of voters that Biden has struggled to court.

Whitmer, a fierce critic of Trump, is perhaps best known for being the intended target of a kidnapping plot devised by a far-right militia group.

Michigan will be one of the crucial battleground states in the 5 November presidential election — a strong argument, according to her supporters, for naming Whitmer as a candidate.
Whitmer has dismissed speculation about any candidacy, saying on Monday that she was “proud to support Joe Biden as our nominee”.

“I am behind him 100 per cent in the fight to defeat Donald Trump,” she said.

Josh Shapiro

A man with short brown hair wearing a navy suit, white shirt, blue patterned tie, and black framed glasses

Josh Shapiro is currently the governor of Pennsylvania. Source: AAP / Matt Rourke/AP

Pennsylvania governor Josh Shapiro leads the biggest swing state in November’s race.

The 51-year-old, elected in November 2022 with a convincing victory over a conservative rival and took office in early 2023, was previously elected twice as the state’s attorney-general.
He condemned Catholic priests who had sexually abused thousands of children and prosecuted Purdue Pharma, the .

Shapiro is an effective speechmaker and an avowed centrist — qualities that could propel him to seek national office.

The rest

Other names circulating include Illinois governor JB Pritzker, Maryland governor Wes Moore, and Kentucky governor Andy Beshear, but their chances so far seem limited at best.

Senator Amy Klobuchar and transportation secretary Pete Buttigieg, who both ran against Biden in the 2020 primaries, have also been mentioned.

Tyler Mitchell

By Tyler Mitchell

Tyler is a renowned journalist with years of experience covering a wide range of topics including politics, entertainment, and technology. His insightful analysis and compelling storytelling have made him a trusted source for breaking news and expert commentary.

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