New book: Sen. Duckworth pushed back after Biden rejected her for VP over concerns about Thailand birth
“I’ve beaten every a--h--- who’s come after me with that,” Duckworth told Biden, recounted in “This Will Not Pass: Trump, Biden and the Battle for America’s Future.”
WASHINGTON — A new book, making headlines for catching House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy in a lie, also details Sen. Tammy Duckworth’s strong pushback to the Biden team rejecting her for vice president on the grounds her Thailand birth to an American father would give rise to distracting birther lies and possibly litigation.
“This Will Not Pass: Trump, Biden, and the Battle for America’s Future” by Jonathan Martin and Alexander Burns, both New York Times political writers, reveals a conversation McCarthy, the California Republican, had about how to get former President Donald Trump to resign following the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.
McCarthy, now back in the Trump fold, denied the conversation. McCarthy’s bald lie came to light after The New York Times released an audio recording of the call last week.
The Sun-Times obtained a copy of the book, to be released on May 3. Here are other revelations in the book about former Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Gov. J.B. Pritzker, Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Rep. Lauren Underwood, D-Ill.
DUCKWORTH VP BID: Trump’s political rise took root with his birther lie that Barack Obama was not born in the U.S.
Martin and Burns write how Duckworth impressed the Biden vice-presidential search team and “for a moment, it seemed the running mate might be Tammy Duckworth.”
Duckworth was born in Thailand; her mother was Thai and her father an American. Biden’s lawyers were worried that the Trump campaign or allies would go to court to claim she was not a “natural-born citizen.” They did not want a court battle.
Biden raised the matter with Duckworth, “gingerly … Duckworth pushed back hard on the Biden team, arguing that they should not preemptively surrender to the threat of birther-style litigation. She reminded them that she had been attacked in racist and xenophobic terms in past campaigns, and that she had prevailed.
“I’ve beaten every a--h--- who’s come after me with that,” she said. Biden’s reply was rueful. It’s not a question of whether you’re eligible, he said. It’s just a question of whether we want this to become a distraction in the campaign.
“The senator got the sense that Biden felt bad about the message he was conveying to her. His campaign was about to engage in a preemptive surrender to the most vicious of Donald Trump’s political tactics — to a version of the same lie that had made Trump a celebrity folk hero to the paranoid right.”
RAHM BOOSTED GOV. WHITMER FOR VP: Meanwhile, the book reveals, former Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who was Obama’s first chief of staff, was lobbying Biden to tap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer — who is white — for his running mate. Emanuel “stressed to Biden that Whitmer would lock down the Midwest. Emanuel argued that Whitmer’s race should not count against her.”
PRITZKER, KAMALA, RAHM, 2024: The book details Vice President Kamala Harris’ “unsettled place in the administration” as “other Democrats were already eyeing the 2024 race if Biden declined to run.”
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg “was a favorite of wealthy donors who wanted an alternative to Harris for 2024 or beyond. Several major governors who had battled Trump — including Phil Murphy, J.B. Pritzker and Roy Cooper — were making the rounds of Democratic contributors.”
Meanwhile, Harris, looking for advice “beyond her inner circle,” sought “counsel” from Emanuel, now Biden’s ambassador to Japan and MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough.
LIGHTFOOT AND CHICAGO POLICE: Mayor Lori Lightfoot “grew so frustrated with the pressure to slash police spending that she told fellow mayors she had threatened to pull the cops entirely out of two aldermanic districts where lawmakers were hectoring her administration with demands to defund the police... . In her telling, the left-wing officials backed down quickly.”
BIDEN ADVISED REP. LAUREN UNDERWOOD: Biden campaigned for Underwood in St. Charles in October 2018, days before her first election. Later, Biden invited Underwood, then 32, to meet with him: “He counseled her on how to navigate a Congress that was inhospitable to young people, as it had been to him nearly a half century earlier.”
BRAZILE ON OBAMA, DIVERSITY: Former DNC chair Donna Brazile called Biden chief of staff Ron Klain to complain “about the lack of Black appointees.” Klain said they were “making progress.” Brazile “remembered well how the administration of the first Black president had been dominated by white men. On matters of diversity, Brazile shot back, Obama wasn’t exactly the gold standard for Black folks.”
PELOSI ON OBAMA, BIDEN: Last year, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, “who spoke regularly with the former president” told a friend, “Obama is jealous of Biden.”