Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s campaign staff is making plans to introduce his eventual vice-presidential choice to key party constituencies. Donors are readying finance events featuring the still-unnamed running mate — “date and time to be announced.” An in-person reveal is being discussed.
But as the political world awaits his announcement, Mr. Biden himself has not appeared to be in a big rush — no surprise to those who know him well.
His first self-imposed date for naming a running mate, around Aug. 1, came and went. The first week of August, another timeline he publicly floated, is nearly over, and an aide confirmed that an announcement would not happen this week. Mr. Biden has reached the final stage of his deliberations and is expected to name his choice shortly before the Democratic National Convention, which begins on Aug. 17. And while that is in keeping with the timeline of the two previous Democratic nominees, it is at odds with Mr. Biden’s own words.
“The deadline for a V.P. nomination is the convention,” said Representative Cedric Richmond, a co-chairman of Mr. Biden’s campaign. “He’s very deliberative with his decision-making. It works.”
This kind of approach — being openly meditative about the issue at hand, with a penchant for missing his own deadlines as he mulls his options — is in line with how Mr. Biden has made other big political choices throughout his career. Those who have worked with him over the years describe nonlinear decision-making processes with input from allies and family members, a barrage of questions from Mr. Biden, and a habit of extending deadlines in a way that leaves some Democrats anxious and annoyed, while others say it brings him to a well-considered decision, eventually.
That tendency was on display in 2019, as Mr. Biden grappled with whether to run for president, missing one self-imposed deadline after another to make a decision. A similar pattern played out ahead of the 2016 election, when Mr. Biden wrestled for months with whether to run before ultimately deciding against it, devastated by the 2015 death of his son Beau.
Ahead of the 2004 presidential race, he engaged in extensive deliberations about a bid, even going to Boston to discuss the contest with John F. Kerry, the eventual nominee, before ultimately deciding against running. He had a moment of indecision just before he announced his run for president in 1988, too, he wrote in a memoir.
On a different scale, he is routinely late to his own events, he lingers on rope lines and phone calls, and he and his team were slow to formulate responses during several pivotal moments of the 2020 contest.
Mr. Biden is not a man who can be rushed, on issues big or small.
And he views the vice-presidential pick as an especially weighty matter.
“He knows when what he’s decided really matters,” said Senator Chris Coons, Democrat of Delaware. “He takes time to make those decisions well. He doesn’t struggle to make those decisions, he makes them in a series. He listens to the relevant experts, he consults the relevant data.”
In this case, Mr. Coons said, Mr. Biden has all the data he needs — he knows the results of the vetting process and his team has heard a range of outside opinions. And he heads into the weekend with a few important conversations left, including, Mr. Coons suggested, with vice-presidential contenders and trusted advisers. Mr. Biden is weighing who would make a “trusted, reliable, capable partner,” the role, Mr. Coons said, Mr. Biden filled as Barack Obama’s vice president.
“He’s taking the time to make sure that he gets the inputs that he would value, both a chance to hear from people who know well and have worked closely with the different candidates, but also time to talk to them directly,” he said Thursday night, asked where Mr. Biden was in the process.
Yet as the process has stretched out, each day has also brought intensive lobbying, uncertainty for the contenders and, increasingly, visible factions.
State Senator Annette Taddeo of Florida said she and other lawmakers and donors had expressed concerns to the campaign about the possible selection of Representative Karen Bass of California, whose record of travel to Cuba as a young activist and respectful remarks about Fidel Castro when he died could alienate voters in Miami.
“It’s our job not just to speak up on his behalf but to speak up when we believe we can avoid an error in the campaign, and that’s what I’ve been doing,” said Ms. Taddeo, a member of Mr. Biden’s Latino leadership committee who spoke highly of her fellow Floridian, Representative Val Demings, and voiced a view privately shared by other prominent Democrats in South Florida. She continued, “We need to hurry up and pick and move on.”
Ms. Bass, who is well-liked across the ideological spectrum of the Democratic caucus, has said that her views on Cuba had evolved and that she would not repeat those comments about Mr. Castro. A spokesman pointed to a supportive statement made by the Cuban-American mayor of Coral Gables, Fla., Raúl Valdés-Fauli, who praised Ms. Bass’s “commitment to democracy” and governing experience, and said that “the Biden-Bass ticket will win Florida.”
Republicans, in the meantime, are previewing their attacks on several of the potential contenders, including Susan Rice, the former national security adviser, and Democratic opposition research is also flying, aimed at cutting down some contenders in the mix.
Senator Kamala Harris has faced sharp questioning from some Biden supporters about whether she would be loyal to his political agenda — an issue that has played out publicly and created fierce backlash.
“People close to the campaign, to actually start undermining these candidates, was just wrong and so terribly stereotypical, and a throwback to the 1950s,” said Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers. “Joe Biden is being more transparent than I think virtually any other presidential nominee I’ve seen before, but with that unfortunately comes the politics that these incredibly accomplished women are now facing.”
As the process has turned openly divisive, other Democrats wish Mr. Biden had adhered to his original stated timeline and named someone by now. But former Senator Barbara Boxer, who served with Mr. Biden in the Senate, said that he must have time to deliberate, and that it is useful to see potential candidates tested under pressure.
“Joe is a person who has very strong views, and he’s very smart about putting out the positive and the negative on any issue,” Ms. Boxer said. “All this chatter about, ‘hurry up, hurry up’ — I think that’s wrong. Because as we go day by day, we get a chance to see these women in action.”
Andrew Bates, a Biden spokesman, said that Mr. Biden “bases consequential decisions on being informed and hearing from a wide variety of credible experts,” arguing that approach stood in contrast to President Trump’s decision-making style.
Mr. Biden is now determining his personal degree of comfort with a narrowed group of candidates, according to people in touch with the campaign.
Asked in an interview last week if Mr. Biden had ideas about who fit that bill, former Senator Harry Reid of Nevada said: “My knowledge is, I think he knows within two or three people who he feels comfortable with. He’ll have to narrow it down to number one. He’s the only one who can do that.”
Names frequently discussed in Biden circles over the last week, according to interviews with top Biden allies, include Ms. Harris, Ms. Rice and Ms. Bass, along with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan. Some supporters also remain enthusiastic about Ms. Demings and Senators Elizabeth Warren and Tammy Duckworth among others, but acknowledge that there is a fluid process that only Mr. Biden, his wife, his sister and a few close longtime aides probably have full visibility into.
In the meantime, signs of a public rollout have surfaced. Mr. Biden’s campaign is increasingly considering how the eventual candidate should engage important political constituencies, and has sought input regarding the community leaders and organizations the running mate should contact, and what kinds of events she could do, according to multiple people familiar with the proceedings.
In a fund-raising appeal sent Thursday, Mr. Biden wrote, “I’d like to personally invite you to join me and my running mate for our first grass-roots fund-raiser together as the official Democratic ticket.” Details, the message said, will be sent “once they’re finalized.” Another fund-raising invitation hosted by Women for Biden — without specifics on date or time — was headlined, “introducing our running mate.”
Mr. Biden, for his part, has rejected the idea that his search process has been slower or messier than those of previous nominees.
“It’s been very orderly,” he said during an interview that aired Thursday with members of the National Association of Black Journalists and National Association of Hispanic Journalists. “Every one of the women we’ve interviewed is qualified. And I’ve narrowed it down.”
Added Ms. Weingarten, “This is one of those moments where you have to let Joe be Joe, and you have to trust that he knows what he’s looking for and what he needs.”
Jonathan Martin and Shane Goldmacher contributed reporting.