One of Joe Biden’s finalists in his vice-presidential sweepstakes is Rep. Karen Bass of California. Bass has visited Cuba several times and had glowing words of praise for Fidel Castro after his death.
But times they are a-changing and Bass is now being lauded by her supporters for her outreach to the Hispanic community. Bass, who is black, is on Biden’s list of women of color Democrats are demanding he chooses from for the number two slot.
But for every plus that Bass would bring to the campaign, there are minuses as well.
“I’m not a socialist. I’m not a communist. I’ve belonged to one party my entire life and that’s the Democratic Party and I’m a Christian,” Bass told NBC News.
Bass is denying she’s a communist not because Democrats particularly care — she’s the right gender and the right color — but because there are still a lot of us who are aghast at the thought of a communist being a “heartbeat away” from the presidency.
Cuban-Americans, many of whom made the perilous crossing to Florida in leaky, unseaworthy boats, remember what living under communism was like and totally reject it.
Juan Proaño, founder of Miami-based Plus Three, a technology firm that does work for nonprofits and political groups, said that “in regards to Cuba, the demographic has changed so much that it would be a mistake for anyone to think that she’s not going to add anything to the ticket with regards to Latino outreach—they’re talking about one piece of her that mischaracterized the entire person who is Karen Bass.”
But Eduardo Gamarra, a political science professor at Florida International University, said Bass may be too much of a liability—regardless of her work with Latinos—and it would make a Democratic win in Florida difficult, especially in a state where the winner will probably win by 1 percent.
It’s true that many younger Cuban-Americans supported Barack Obama’s normalization of relations with Cuba. But that doesn’t make them any less opposed to communism and a majority still support Republicans. For Biden, this is a problem because he needs 70 percent Latino support and a big turnout from Hispanics in Florida to win the state.
But what might really sink Bass’s chances are her strange ties to the Nation of Islam and its virulently anti-Semitic leader, Louis Farrakhan.
But Bass, a California Democrat, appeared alongside Tony Muhammad, the director of the Nation of Islam’s Western division, at events in 2014 and 2015. Bass is seen posing with Muhammad in a photo posted online by Mablean Ephriam, the former host of Fox television program “Justice With Judge Mable.”
She attended an anti-police brutality event in April 2015 along with Muhammad and other Los Angeles-area activists, video shows. Dr. Mauluna Karenga, the founder of the holiday Kwanzaa, also spoke at the rally.
Karenga was convicted in 1971 on charges that he tortured two women who were part of his black liberation paramilitary group, US Organization.
The Nation of Islam was even named a “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Bass’s ties to NOI are sure to be highlighted by the Trump campaign if she’s chosen by Biden.
In fact, that’s the problem with most black female aspirants to the vice presidency. Support for Nation of Islam (or failure to denounce their hate), support for Palestinians, and the usual praise for anti-American thugs around the world is giving Biden a hard time. There is also a problematic relationship with the LGBTQ community and the anti-gay agenda of many black leaders.
In the end, Biden is going to have to choose the candidate he believes will do him the least amount of damage.