If you’re a Democratic officeholder who’s a woman but not African American, your odds of being selected as Joe Biden’s running mate are not great. But Illinois senator Tammy Duckworth sure is making a strong run in these final weeks, getting into a high-profile, weeklong escalating fight with one of President Trump’s favorite television hosts, Tucker Carlson.
Duckworth is 52, appears to be in good health, and is a disabled Army helicopter pilot, sustaining permanent injuries after being shot down over Iraq. If selected, she would be the first Asian American on a presidential ticket of the two major parties.
Duckworth’s weaknesses as a running mate is that Biden doesn’t need any help to win Illinois, and Duckworth can wander into hard-left territory while denouncing the president. She contended Trump “spent all his time talking about dead traitors” at Mount Rushmore (he didn’t) and characterized Mount Rushmore as “ground that was stolen from Native Americans who had actually been given that land during a treaty” — an argument that easily be characterized as opposing the existence of Mount Rushmore.
Would African Americans be less likely to turn out if Biden picks an Asian-American running mate? Some Democrats might think that the current moment, and Trump’s abysmal numbers among African Americans (an 89–7 split in favor of Biden in the latest Pew poll) would give them little reason to worry. Then again, Hillary Clinton made a similar calculation.
For those wondering, Duckworth is eligible to be president and counts as a “natural-born citizen,” despite being born in Thailand, because her father was a U.S. citizen, and thus she was a U.S. citizen from the moment she was born. As the Congressional Research Service concluded:
The weight of legal and historical authority indicates that the term “natural born” citizen would mean a person who is entitled to U.S. citizenship “by birth” or “at birth,” either by being born “in” the United States and under its jurisdiction, even those born to alien parents; by being born abroad to U.S. citizen-parent.
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