The consequence was swift.
“Chris Dodd” was soon run on Twitter Monday morning. A chorus of voices asked if Biden had the bad power of an old friend from his time in the Senate a man hugely to lead his potentially historic choice. They accused Dodd of singing to Harris for the kind of behavior that is rarely criticized when a man does this – he goes aggressively after an opponent in a debate.
“Hey @SenChrisDodd,” Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen wrote on Twitter. “This is the kind of restrained behavior that this process doesn’t need. Turn it off.” Biden himself came to a news conference lined up with points to talk about Harris, expecting questions.
And on ABC’s “The View,” Tuesday, Sunny Hostin raised the issue again.
“I was thinking, how many times have they been told to keep the woman in place?”; Hostin said, “to do something different than what men always do?”
Sources close to Dodd and those with knowledge of the selection process said his role is no greater than that of the other three members of the search committee.
But dozens of Democrats – including former aides to short VP-listers, party leaders, former and current elected officials and donors – said their primary contact with the selection team was Dodd.
Biden and Dodd were thrown into the same mold. Like Biden, Dodd tried to extend a long Senate career by bidding for the White House – both of which ran unsuccessfully in 2008. Biden supporters and associates said the two are very close; some even described them as brothers.
And so when it came time to narrow down his VP’s choice, Biden turned to his loyal friend whom his political instincts trusted.
“He did not want to do that [the late Sen.] John McCain did – put a political operator in charge. He wanted a friend. Someone who has been known for 30 years, “Biden’s confidant said.” He wants to be sure he doesn’t end up with someone who’s feeling for his daily pulse. “
During the audit, Dodd was the voice on the other end of the phone, polling local party leaders, current and former elected officials and key donors. It is also what people with specific concerns about a competitor have gone to in opposition criticism or research.
“He couldn’t have picked a better person to help him catch her,” former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said in an interview. “Chris is really good, I’ve talked to him many times.”
The Rep. Connecticut’s Rosa DeLauro, who served as Dodd’s chief of staff in the 1980s, said the clear trust factor led Biden to him for the VP assignment.
“This is a crazy city. You have a lot of acquaintances, but you have a few friends – people you can count on on one side you can trust in the good and bad times,” she said. “They both became friends so early – 30 years ago. They were good friends, got to know each other and got to know each other’s families well.”
But Dodd’s critics start on Monday, saying he is ill-suited to play such an important role in choosing a female vice president.
“At a time when the country is in its biggest crisis anyone has ever seen – from the pandemic to racial inequality to a very tumultuous Democratic primary, we must make sure leaders reflect the candidate’s vision,” Camille said. Rivera, a Democratic strategist with progressive company in New York. “Chris, as the head of the committee, should consider how the general public will react to those comments – in particular for a woman of color. He has a responsibility to be aware of the time we are in. . “
Others say Harris brought up these questions. Biden, as the Democratic forerunner, was a punching bag for opponents during primary. But his campaign at the time seeing Harris ’attack as different, a cheap shot because it implied he was a racist. (Harris began her attack with “I don’t believe you’re a racist.”)
Through a spokesman, Harris declined to comment on Dodd.
Rose Kapolczynski, a veteran Democratic strategist who advised former California Craftswoman Barbara Boxer, said she is not too concerned about Dodd’s role in the audit process.
“People may not like Chris Dodd for any reason, but I think it’s wrong to say that because of his race and gender he can’t make a bold and transformative recommendation,” she said.
The hubbub forced the Dodd loyalists to overrun his defense. These included Minyon Moore, whom Dodd, as the former chairman of the Democratic National Committee, had appointed as the first African-American political director of a major political party.
“He saw my skills and thought he deserved a job and there were several people competing for that job. He was definitely a boss and a friend inside and out of it,” said Moore, who later served as a close advisor. with Hillary Clinton.
“In terms of opportunity, Chris Dodd has opened the door for me and the women,” DeLauro said.
A source close to Dodd said Wednesday he considers Harris a friend and was an early supporter of her Senate campaign. The person said Dodd spoke to Harris several times during the verification process, but did not characterize those phone calls.
“He talked to all the candidates – and others. He had hundreds of conversations,” the source said, adding that Dodd is not in charge of the audit: “There is no leader, they are all talking to people. and contribute to the vice-president. It is the decision of the vice-president and his alone. “
The other members of the committee are White House and Senate attorney Cynthia Hogan, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-Del.). Others involved in verifying candidates include campaign attorney general Dana Remus, former Obama White House attorney Bob Bauer and former National Security Adviser Lisa Monaco.
Eleni Kounalakis, the California lieutenant governor and Harris supporter, said Dodd said a lot of “supportive things” about Harris in recent days. “The fact is that strong, cast, ambitious women are role models in our role in our country,” Kounalakis, a former ambassador and the first woman to hold the state’s No. 2 post, told POLITICO . “A woman can be all of these things, and still be a loyal vice president who is great to work with.”
On Wednesday, Rosen convicted Dodd of allowing the search details to be released.
“I trust Joe Biden to make a good VP pick because he knows the role better than anyone,” Rosen said. “I gather several advisors who have been talking to candidates for a long time, but they are discreet.” Dodd, she added, “it was a show and it was a mistake.”
The Biden and Dodd campaign took steps to have negative action for Monday’s report, but it took some time.
When the POLITICO went to him with his reporting on Sunday, Dodd refused to answer. Nearly two days after the story ended, his office issued a statement to Washington Post colonist Jennifer Rubin noting that Dodd had “hundreds of conversations related to the Vice President’s search.”
Although he did not want to “feed the speculation” by commenting on the issue, the statement added, “the anonymous comments reported in POLITICS yesterday do not represent my view of Senator Harris nor what I shared with the Vice President Biden, and they need to be addressed. ”
Biden himself arrived at a news conference Tuesday prepared to address the Harris issue. A list of bullet points in his hand was captured by an Associated Press photographer.
“Don’t keep scans.” “Campaign with me & Jill.” “Talented.” “Great help for the campaign.” “Her great respect,” the notes read.
But reporters who asked for questions did not ask about Harris.
Damage control extended until Wednesday night, when Biden campaign manager Jen O’Malley Dillon appeared to address criticism that Dodd’s comments were a sign that Biden would somehow comes out to Harris because he showed ambition.
“Ambitious women make history, change the world, and win. Our campaign is full of ambitious women who are all going for Joe Biden,” she tweeted. “He’s going to make that decision, and that’s clear: whoever chooses from the highly qualified options to help her win and unite the country, she’ll be one too.”