Democrats around Joe Biden are angling to provide alternatives to Kamala Harris as his running mate, long seen as the front-runner for the post, as his vice presidential selection process enters its final stage.
Although Biden said Tuesday that he would announce his pick the week of Aug. 3, people familiar with the process said they are planning for a rollout the week of Aug. 10, giving the new Democratic ticket only a few days to campaign together before the party's convention, which begins Aug. 17. Biden allies have let it be known that California Rep. Karen Bass, chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, is being seriously considered, and Bass is doing her own campaigning.
Biden friends and donors have been critical of Harris in recent news reports, both openly and anonymously, in terms that have generated backlash from women's groups for their sexist undertones. They all suspect that the California senator is Biden's top choice as he begins one-on-one meetings with the top candidates in the coming days.
Candidates have not yet been formally rejected after an intensive vetting process but a few have emerged as the most likely choices.
In addition to Harris and Bass, former Obama National Security Adviser Susan Rice is still at the top of the list, while Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, who has been advising Biden on economic issues, and Illinois Senator Tammy Duckworth, a decorated combat veteran who lost her legs in Iraq, remain in the mix.
Biden's vice presidential selection has an added importance, given that he would be 78 at his inauguration, making him the oldest U.S. president.
Bass, a late addition to Biden's list, has recently emerged as a top contender as she's made her case as a team player who won't outshine Biden. Bass has also received the backing of House Democrats, who have praised her work on police reform and her ability to work with Republicans.
But Biden doesn't know Bass very well, which is particularly important to him because he is looking to replicate the bond he and President Barack Obama shared when Biden was vice president. And her progressive record could give him pause as he anticipates how the little-known congresswoman will be received on the national stage.
Just Friday, a report emerged that Bass had traveled to communist Cuba to work with a pro-Castro group as a high school student in the 1970s. Also Friday, the Daily Caller resurfaced a video of Bass praising the Church of Scientology at a church event in 2010, when it was already facing scrutiny for its treatment of members.