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Joe Biden turns to friend and confidant Chris Dodd to help him choose running mate

Christopher Keating, The Hartford Courant on

Published in News & Features

He said Biden and Dodd are being careful to make sure that the candidate is best for the party and will not backfire.

"They want to avoid the Sarah Palin problem, which cost John McCain the presidency of the United States, in my opinion," Droney said of the former Alaska governor, who was on the Republican presidential ticket in 2008. "That hurt him. You try to get a vice presidential candidate who doesn't cost you anything and maybe gets you a point or two. McCain lost a point or two and then some, and Biden can't afford to do the same thing. Period."

Droney said he believes the best candidate is U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth of Illinois, who lost both legs while serving as a U.S. Army helicopter pilot in 2004 during the Iraq War.

"If you're going to be practical about electing a president, you should pick a woman who will appeal to middle-class people who are not ideologues across the country," he said. "She's a war hero. She gave a lot for her country already. People respect that military service. That component is not part of the Democratic picture anymore. There are very few active Democrats who actually served in the military. ... Biden needs to get the middle class of America on his team."

Unlike Droney, U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal has not publicly backing a candidate to be Biden's running mate because he is personally friendly with three fellow U.S. senators in contention -- Harris, Duckworth and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts. Blumenthal has spoken to Dodd about the process and was not surprised about Dodd's reluctance to talk publicly at this point.

"Joe Biden couldn't rely on a person of better judgment and extraordinary insight than Chris Dodd, who is a battle-tested wise man of the political process who has seen it at a lot of different levels," Blumenthal, D-Conn., told The Hartford Courant. "Chris Dodd's contribution here is to offer insight on what the downsides might be with any particular candidate, as well as the advantages. There are people who are seeking to advise them, which comes with the territory. They've been to this rodeo before a number of times at the highest levels, so the rest of us are almost amateurs by comparison."


The other three co-chairs in the selection process are not as prominent on the national stage as Dodd, who ran briefly for president and served as the general chairman of the Democratic National Committee during the Clinton administration. They are Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti; U.S. Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester, a Democrat from Biden's home state of Delaware; and Cynthia Hogan, who has worked with Biden in the past and helped vet the nomination of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

The biggest vice presidential vetting process in Connecticut history came in 2000, when U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman joined the national ticket with then-Vice President Al Gore. Matthew Hennessy, a former Lieberman fundraiser, campaign adviser and staff member, said longtime Lieberman aide Sherry Brown told him that Lieberman had not been informed yet of the choice -- even after it was announced by a reporter on television.

"That's how secretive it is," Hennessy said. "The nominee himself wasn't told by Gore. The nominee's not the last to know, but they're not the first to know."

In the current cycle, Dodd recalled his decades together in the Senate when he endorsed Biden.


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