Karen Bass and Susan Rice, likely Biden VP pick

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Joseph R. Biden Jr. has entered the final stage of his deliberations about choosing a running mate as he prepares to talk one-on-one with the finalists next week, while Democratic leaders lobby him furiously to elevate their allies and sink their enemies.

Mr. Biden’s campaign has conducted extensive polling and focus groups with voters on a collection of candidates and weighed an array of factors, such as the impact of the pick in battleground states, and whether to choose a Black woman. Aides say the announcement will come the week before the Democratic convention in August.

Two candidates who received scant attention early in the process are now among the leading contenders: Representative Karen Bass of California and Susan E. Rice, the former national security adviser, according to Democratic officials briefed on the selection process. Ms. Bass in particular has moved rapidly toward the top of Mr. Biden’s list amid an intensive lobbying drive by her fellow House Democrats, and has impressed the former vice-president’s search committee.

Mr. Biden is said to be focused on finding a running mate he regards as capable of advancing his priorities in governing and who can be counted on not to stray from the urgent challenges facing the nation to pursue their own political priorities, according to people familiar with his thinking. His advisers would also prefer a running mate who would not present a rich political target for President Trump, given that the incumbent is lagging badly in the polls and has so far struggled to deliver credible negative attacks against Mr. Biden.

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