The backlash was fast.
“Chris Dodd” was soon trending on Twitter on Monday morning. A chorus of voices asked if Biden unfairly empowered his old friend from his time to run his possible historic pick. He accused Dodd of extorting Herriss for the kind of behavior that is rarely criticized when a man does it – aggressively following an adversary in a debate.
“Hey @ sencerodd,” Democratic strategist Hillary Rosen wrote on Twitter. “This is lewd behavior, this process is not required. Shut up. ”Biden himself arrives at a news conference prepared with the expectation of questions talking about Harris.
And on ABC’s “The View” Tuesday, Sunny Hostin again took issue.
“I was thinking, how many times a woman has been asked to stay in their place?” Hostin said, “To do so is different from what men always do?”
Sources close to Dodd and people familiar with the selection process said that his role is no bigger than the other three search committee members.
But dozens of Democrats – including former associates of VP short-listers, party leaders, former and current elected officials and donors – said their primary contact with the selection team has been Dodd.
Biden and Dodd are molded into the same mold. Like Biden, Dodd tried to make a long Senate career with a bid for the White House – they both failed in 2008. Biden supporters and colleagues said the two are very close; Some described them as brothers.
And so when it came time to narrow down his VP choice, Biden pointed to his loyal friend, whose political instincts he trusts.
“What did he not want to do [the late Sen.] John McCain did – put some political operative in charge. He needed a friend. Someone he has known for 30 years, ”said a longtime confidant of Biden. “He wants to make sure he doesn’t end up with someone who is feeling for his pulse everyday.”
During the wait, Dodd voices the other end of the phone, examining local party leaders, current and former elected officials, and top donors. He is also one who people with specific concerns about a claimant have gone with criticism or protest research.
Former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said in an interview, “There could not be a better person than this to help him improve.” “Chris is really good, I’ve talked to him quite a few times.”
Connecticut Rape Rosa Delaro, who served as Dodd’s chief of staff in the 1980s, said the trust factor clearly led Biden to the VP assignment.
“It’s a crazy city. You have many acquaintances, but you have some friends – people you can count with one hand, whom you can trust in good times and bad, ”she said. “They made friendship so quickly 30 years ago. They were good friends, knew each other and knew each other’s families well. “
But critics of Dodd said on Monday that she was ill equipped to play an important role in selecting the female vice president.
“In a moment where the country is in its greatest crisis that no one has ever seen – from epidemics to racial inequality to a very democratic primary, we need to ensure that leaders reflect the vision of the candidate , “Camille Rivera, a Democratic strategist with a progressive firm in New York. “Chris, as the head of the committee, has to keep in mind how the general public is going to react to those comments – especially for a woman of color. We are responsible for being conscious of the time that we are. “
Others say Harris brought these questions to himself. Biden, as a Democratic frontrunner, was a punching bag for opponents throughout the primary. But at that time his campaign was Harris’s attack was seen as a different, cheaper shot because it implied he was racist. (Harris said “I can’t believe you’re racist.”
Through a spokesperson, Harris declined to comment on Dodd.
Veteran Democratic strategist Rose Kapolkaiski, who advised former California fighter Barbara Boxer, said she was not too concerned about Dodd’s role in the waiting 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 bold and transformative recommendations,” he said.
Hubb inspired Dodd loyalists to jump to his defense. These included Minion Moore, who was appointed by Dodd as the former Democratic National Committee chairman, as the first African American political director of a major political party.
“He saw my skills and he thought I deserved the job and many people were competing for that job. He was definitely an owner and friend through and through,” said Moore, who Later served as a close adviser to Hillary Clinton.
“In terms of opportunity, Chris Dodd opens the door for me and women,” Delaro said.
A source close to Dodd said Wednesday that he considered Harris a friend and an early supporter of his Senate campaign. The man said that Dodd has spoken to Harris several times during the vodding process, but will not reveal the characterization of those calls.
“He talked to all the candidates – and others. The source gave hundreds of conversations,” adding that Dodd is not in charge of waiting: “There is no leader, they are talking to all the people and providing input to the Vice President It is the Vice President’s decision and his alone. “
Other members of the committee are White House and Senate counsel Cynthia Hogan, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-Del.). Others involved in vetoing the candidates include campaign general counsel Dana Remus, former Obama White House counsel Bob Bauer, and former National Security Adviser Lisa Monaco.
California lieutenant governor and Harris supporter Eleni Kaunalakis said that in recent times Dodd has said “very helpful things” about Harris. “The fact is that strong, outspoken, ambitious women are role models in our country,” said Polico. “A woman can be all these things, and still be a loyal vice-president who is great to work with.”
On Wednesday, Rosen made a mistake to allow Dodd to seize details of the search.
“I believe Joe Biden likes to pick a good VP because he knows the role better than anyone,” Rosen said. “I think many advisors are talking to the candidates, but they are insincere.” Dodd, he said, “was pretending and it was a mistake.”
The Biden campaign and Dodd have taken steps to include the backlash in Monday’s report, but it took them a while.
When POLITICO went to him on Sunday reporting this, Dodd refused to respond. About two days after the story went on, his office issued a statement to Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin, stating that Dodd had “hundreds of conversations related to the Vice President’s search.”
However, he did not want to “feed into speculation” by commenting on the matter, saying in the statement, “The anonymous comments made yesterday at Politico do not represent my view of Senator Harris nor have I with Vice President Biden. Shared, and addressed the need. ”
Biden himself arrived at Tuesday’s conference prepared to address the Harris case. A list of bullet points held in his hand was captured by an Associated Press photographer.
“Don’t keep complaining.” “Campaigned with me and Jill.” “Talented.” “Great help for the expedition.” “Much respect for him,” the notes read.
But reporters he questioned did not ask about Harris.
Damage control increased Wednesday night, when Biden campaign manager Jane O’Malley Dillon seemed to address criticism that Dodd’s remarks were a sign that Biden would somehow crush Harris as he showed ambition.
“Ambitious women make history, change the world, and win. Our campaign is filled with ambitious women who are going out for JoAden.” He tweeted. “He will make this decision, and it is clear: Whoever chooses him from very worthy options to help him win and unify the country will also be one.”