‘It was just an opening conversation and it’s not something that I would call a professional formalized vetting…’
“I’ve had a conversation with some folks,” Whitmer told the Today show on Tuesday. “It was just an opening conversation and it’s not something that I would call a professional formalized vetting.”
Biden, who will turn 78 in November, has frequently name-checked prospective running mates as he tries to cobble together a coalition from the splintering—and often conflicting—interest groups within the evolving Democratic party.
He has promised that his prospective successor would be a female for only the third time ever, following former vice-presidential candidates Geraldine Ferraro and Sarah Palin.
After Hillary Clinton‘s failure last election to become the first female president, Biden’s hypothetical VP also would be well-positioned for another shot at that history-making distinction.
Biden first floated Whitmer’s name, alongside those of other influential Democrat women, several months ago, during his contentious primary run-off with Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.
Duckworth also was selected for an interview with the Biden camp, according to the New York Post.
However, Abrams—an early favorite of Biden’s who could lure in mega-donors like Michael Bloomberg and George Soros to his cash-strapped campaign—has been aggressively lobbying for the position, so it’s unlikely that she’ll give up the spot without a fight.
Whitmer, on the other hand, tried to downplay her interest in the role shortly after mentioning it.
“I am making a little bit of time to stay connected to the campaign, but the most important thing that I have to do right now is be the governor of my home state,” she said. “That’s all that matters to me in this moment.”
Whitmer, a relative newcomer in the political arena, is best known so far for her failed coronavirus response and excessive shutdown restrictions.
Last month, she signed an executive order preventing large retail stores from selling “nonessential” goods, including gardening supplies and certain kinds of furniture. She also made it illegal for Michiganders to travel to relatives’ homes or to vacation homes in the northern part of the state.
When confronted by the state legislature about the over-the-top nature of these restrictions, Whitmer went behind its back and extended her emergency powers, despite the fact that Michigan state law requires her to first receive legislative approval. She also insisted that she would keep the state in lockdown regardless of what the legislature decided.
In light of Biden’s elderly and frail physical and mental state, Whitmer’s authoritarian tendencies may makes her VP prospects even more troubling for opponents. That is likely to spur even more partisan divisiveness in what already promises to be a brutal, no-holds-barred final leg of the race to Election Day.
Liberty Headlines’ Ben Sellers contributed to this report.