Although he had little to say, Joe Biden had plenty of words to share about one leading contender: California Senator Kamala Harris.
An Associated Press photographer captured Joe Biden’s notes as the Democratic Presidential Nominee took questions from reporters.
The notes revealed five talking points with the name Kamala Harris written across the top.
“Do not hold grudges.” “Campaigned with me & Jill.” “Talented.” “Great help to campaign.” “Great respect for her.”
Those are all observations Biden has made about Harris before.
But they take on new significance following a recent Politico report.
In it, one of Biden's closest friends and a co-chair of his vice presidential vetting committee, former Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd, still harbors concerns about Kamala Harris' tough debate stage performance and that she hasn't expressed regret.
The comments attributed to Dodd have drawn condemnation, especially from influential Democratic women who maintain that Kamala Harris is being held to a standard that wouldn’t apply to a man running for president.
The debate-stage skirmish was one of the seminal moments of the Democratic primary.
Kamala Harris, who is Black, said Biden made “very hurtful” comments about his past work with segregationist senators before she slammed his opposition to busing as schools began to integrate.
“There was a little girl in California who was a part of the second class to integrate her public schools, and she was bused to school every day,” she said. “And that little girl was me.”
At the time, Biden called her comments “a mischaracterization of my position.”
Their relationship has become considerably more amicable.
Biden has praised Harris publicly many times and noted that he’s thought highly of her personally and professionally since she became close to his late son, Beau Biden, when both were state attorneys general.
It is common for high-profile politicians to take notes with them to the podium, either handwritten additions to formal remarks or a bullet-point list.
The latter is like what Biden held on stationery featuring his full name: Joseph R. Biden Jr.
In March, early in the coronavirus pandemic, President Donald Trump's notes were photographed to show “Chinese” written over “corona,” part of the president's efforts to blame the pandemic on a foreign adversary.
Last year, as Trump faced impeachment for pressuring Ukraine officials to help his reelection by finding dirt on Biden, the president had notes that read: “I want nothing” and “I want no quid pro quo.”
Biden's list, at the least, suggests that he wants to defuse any tensions around his relationship with Kamala Harris.
As reflected in his notes, Kamala has become a reliable surrogate for Biden, appearing with him in online fundraisers amid the unusual social distancing standards forced on the campaign by the coronavirus pandemic.
As recently as last week, Harris headlined her own event for Joe.
One focused on the Raleigh area in North Carolina, a battleground state where Harris' dual appeal to Black voters and college-educated white women could boost Democrats' prospects.
Joe Biden ultimately did not field a question specifically about the former state attorney general.
A spokesperson for Kamala Harris did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
In just his third extended news conference in four months, Biden also sidestepped specific questions about the timing of his decision on a running mate, an approach reflected in another entry on Biden's notepad.
Under the heading “VP,” Biden wrote “highly qualified” and “diverse group,” signifying his intention not to tease out any more details.
Beyond vice-presidential politics, Biden's topics included the Justice Department, an allusion to Attorney General William Barr testifying Tuesday on Capitol Hill.
His notes did not name Willian Barr, but the Democratic Presidential Nominee referenced “the people’s lawyer … not the president’s lawyer,” echoing his previous assertions that Barr has used his post as the latter.
On the “Last 100 days” of the campaign, Biden wrote that he’d be “offering clearest contrast,” “tell the truth,” “take responsibility” and “listen to the scientists” – all swipes at Trump.
The list also included the original three-part slogan of Biden’s campaign: “Restore soul” of the nation, “Rebuild MC” (the middle class) and “unite country.”
(Writers: Bill Barrow, Andrew Harnik)