Biden vows to pick a woman as his running mate

In televised debate, former VP commits to pick a woman as his running mate. Sanders says he will "in all likelihood" do the same.

Elad Benari ,

Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders do an elbow bump in place of a handshake
Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders do an elbow bump in place of a handshake

Former US Vice President Joe Biden on Sunday committed to picking a woman as his running mate during a one-on-one debate with Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders.

"If I’m elected president, my Cabinet, my administration, will look like the country and I commit that I will in fact pick a woman to be my vice president," Biden said. "There are a number of women qualified to be president tomorrow and I would pick a woman to be my vice president."

It's the first time Biden has said that he would pick a woman to be his vice president during the campaign.

Sanders would not go as far as Biden in saying he would choose a woman to be his vice president, but said "in all likelihood, I will."

Biden said this past December he would consider Senator Kamala Harris, who had dropped out of the Democratic race, as a potential running mate.

Harris endorsed Biden’s candidacy last week.

The first 10 minutes of Sunday’s debate between Biden and Sanders dealt with the coronavirus pandemic, as the two men were asked how they were confronting the unique risks facing Americans their age with the coronavirus.

Both candidates said they have suspended their rallies, directed their aides to work from home and have avoided shaking hands.

Sanders, who is 78 and had a heart attack last year, said he's "very careful about the people I am interacting with."

"I'm using a lot of soap and hand sanitizers to make sure that I do not get the infection," he said. "And I have to say, thank God right now I do not have any symptoms and I feel very grateful for that."

Biden, who is 77, pointedly noted that he does not have underlying conditions and said he was in good health.

"I wash my hands God knows how many times a day," Biden said. "I carry with me, in my bag outside here, hand sanitizer. I don't know how many times a day I use that. I make sure I don't touch my face and so on. I'm taking all the precautions we're telling everybody else to take."

Both were critical of President Donald Trump’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. Sanders accused the President of fomenting confusion and eroding the all-important trust in government institutions in the time of crisis.

"We have to shut this president up right now because he's undermining the doctors and the scientists who are trying to help the American people," Sanders added, referring to multiple statements by Trump that have been at odds with expert views.

"It is unacceptable for him to be blabbering unfactual information that is harming the American public," he continued.

Biden, for his part, said, "We're at war with the virus. I would call out the military. Now."

He warned that the Department of Defense and the Federal Emergency Management Agency must step in immediately to dramatically expand the number of intensive care beds.

"The present system can not handle the surge that is likely to come," said Biden.