Whitmer praises Biden's pledge for female VP pick but 'not going to be me'

Melissa Nann Burke
The Detroit News

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has been mentioned as a potential running mate for the Democratic presidential nominee but Monday again tamped down such speculation. 

Whitmer praised former Vice President Joe Biden for committing to pick a woman to be his running mate, but "it's not going to be me," she told MSNBC. 

"I think it's important that he has a woman running mate, to be honest. I think that there are a lot of phenomenal potential running mates for him," said Whitmer, who endorsed Biden this month and serves as a co-chair of his national campaign.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announces the state's first two cases of coronavirus, Tuesday, March 10, 2020, at the Michigan State Police headquarters in Windsor Township, Mich.

"I'm going to help him vet and make sure he's got a great running mate. It is not going to be me," she added with a smile. "But I'm going to have a hand in helping make sure that that he has got the rounded out ticket that can win.”

Whitmer appeared Monday morning on MSNBC to discuss her response to the outbreak of the coronavirus COVID-19, where she again urged President Donald Trump to declare a federal disaster. On Friday, Trump declared a national emergency.

On Monday, she ordered a sweeping closure through March 30 of all dine-in eateries, performance venues, indoor sports facilities, movie theaters, recreation centers and gyms to slow the disease's spread. The state has confirmed 53 coronavirus cases. 

Biden made his veep pledge during Sunday night's Democratic debate on CNN. His rival, Vermont U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, said he would "in all likelihood" also select a woman running mate.

Biden also repeated a previous promise to appoint the first black woman on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Some Democratic voters and activists have called for the ultimate nominee to choose a woman as his running mate after the leading female candidates quit the race, leaving two white men at the podium.

Analysts speculate that Whitmer's name would be on the Democratic nominee's short list for a running mate given Michigan's position as a crucial battleground state in the November general election and her relative national popularity among Democrats. 

Others mentioned for the short list include California U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris, Minnesota U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Michigan U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow of Lansing, former Georgia state Rep. Stacey Abrams and Massachusetts U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who quit the primary race and has not yet endorsed. 

Biden trounced Sanders in Michigan's March 10 primary, 53% to 36%, winning all 83 counties. 

Sanders had grumbled about Whitmer's endorsement of Biden this month, saying "that wasn’t her thoughts when I came here to help her get elected, as a matter of fact." 

But Sanders had initially endorsed and campaigned for Whitmer's rival, Abdul El-Sayed, in the 2018 Democratic primary. Whitmer won the primary contest in a three-way race with 52% of the vote.