From Bill Freeman

This time next year we will have elected a new president, or re-elected the one we’ve got now. The chaff is now starting to separate a bit from the wheat for the Democrats, and I am starting to pay attention to the chatter and speculation about who each of the potential likely nominees might pick as a running mate.

I confess that a little more of that attention has been focused on the chatter about a running mate for former Vice President Joe Biden, should he make it through to the podium in Milwaukee in July. A lot of the speculation has focused on “balance,” whether that so-called balance on a Biden ticket would come from a woman, a person of color or someone who brings geographic diversity. But I hope that selecting a running mate is not just about checking boxes. Mr. Biden, or any of the Democrats, needs a ticket that helps Americans feel they are truly represented and included by the people they select to live and work in the White House.

With Mr. Biden’s résumé — 36 years as a Delaware senator, during which time he served as the chair of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, and eight years as VP — he doesn’t need a running mate to bring political experience. Even so, any nominee may need someone with significant foreign policy experience to help balance the world after what will have been a tumultuous and dangerous four years under Trump’s administration.

There are a number of viable and worthy candidates, but my recommendation would be former national security adviser Susan Rice. She worked closely with Mr. Biden in that role, and her experience as our country’s ambassador to the United Nations gives her vast experience in working with foreign governments and helping to establish America’s role overseas. 

Rice’s academic background shows she is no slouch — a Rhodes scholar and Stanford graduate with advanced degrees from Oxford University. Her decades of experience working through some of our most complex foreign conflicts of the past 20 years, combined with her intellect, should put Rice at the top of the list of potential running mates. 

We need character in the White House — two people of character who have demonstrated their ability to make sound, ethical decisions. We would have that in Joe Biden and Susan Rice. Mr. Biden is unarguably a man of character. The fact that he has survived the nuclear blast of Trump’s efforts to discredit him is impressive in and of itself, but he has done so with integrity and honesty. 

Mr. Biden has always honored his commitment to his family and to his constituents. The early loss of his first wife and infant daughter in a car accident while Christmas shopping is a terrible story. But Biden’s determination to fulfill his commitments both to his young sons and to his constituents shows that his ability to do the right thing has been firmly in place for decades. 

Rice would bring that same commitment to the White House. As an African-American woman, she would certainly bring balance to the ticket. But her qualifications and experience should and would be at the forefront. She can also appeal to independents and moderate Republicans, who will likely prove to be a pivotal voting group. Rice has been described as a blunt and matter-of-fact negotiator, and compared to Tennessee’s Howard Baker. As a working mother who has raised two children, Rice also understands well the challenges facing women today. 

I admire Rice as a straight-shooter. In recent interviews, she’s cannily described Trump’s involvement in the Ukraine scandal as his attempt to stir up dust to cover his own weaknesses. She said on ABC’s The View, “What Donald Trump is doing so effectively is taking his own greatest vulnerability, which is the perception that he is corrupt, and his children are corrupt, and trying to turn it into his opponent’s greatest weakness.” In the same interview, she complimented Mr. Biden, saying: “Joe Biden is a man of integrity, whether you agree with him or not. … He was doing the business of the United States government based on bipartisan policy, in concert with our European allies to try to work to root out corruption in Ukraine.”

I couldn’t agree more. We need Joe Biden, a man of integrity, in the White House. And we need the same in his vice president. With Susan Rice as his running mate, America would be assured that we would have integrity, experience and competence in our executive branch — character qualities we are sorely lacking today.

Bill Freeman

Bill Freeman is the owner of FW Publishing, the publishing company that produces the Nashville Scene, Nfocus, the Nashville Post and Home Page Media Group in Williamson County.

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