Duckworth honored to 'be in mix' for vice presidential nominee

Along with fellow senators Kamala Harris of California and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Tammy Duckworth's name continues to surface as a possible Democratic vice presidential nominee.

Presumptive presidential nominee and former Vice President Joe Biden hasn't offered a shortlist but he has said he favors a woman and person of color as his running mate.

U.S. Sen. Duckworth, a Thai-American from Hoffman Estates, said in an interview Wednesday she's honored to be "in the mix."

"I have served at the pleasure of a president once before," said Duckworth, who was picked by President Barack Obama to be assistant secretary of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. She also served in the Illinois National Guard and lost both legs while a helicopter pilot in the Iraq War.

"I've spent my entire life in service to this country. Of course, I would take any invitation to serve at the pleasure of a president very seriously. That said, I have the job that I love in the U.S. Senate representing the great state of Illinois.

"I am honored that my name is even in the mix. I think it's a good message for working moms everywhere," and also positive for Asian Americans and people with disabilities, said Duckworth, who's included on lists from CNN to Politico.

"If it goes no further than this, I'm already very proud that I get to represent all of those interest groups who are so often underrepresented."

Duckworth said she keeps in touch with the Biden campaign, doing surrogate work for them since she endorsed him March 2. That work has included co-hosting a national conference call with veterans for Biden.

A Biden campaign official said earlier the campaign "will run a vigorous vetting process, but no other details are available at this time."

State Rep. Fred Crespo, a Hoffman Estates Democrat who has known Duckworth for years, said "it would be great for Illinois" if she was chosen.

However, Biden also "will have to look at the broad picture and who can help the ticket," said Crespo, who is a delegate to the Democratic National Convention. That might give weight to a swing-state candidate.

Kane County Democratic Party Chairman Mark Guethle, who stumped for Biden in Iowa and is also a delegate, believes Duckworth's a serious contender because "she's a veteran from a blue state."

Duckworth and fellow Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin are part of President Trump's Opening Up America Again Congressional Group, which held a conference call April 16.

"I'm happy to be on the task force ... I do want the economy to be moving again but I want to make sure we do it in a systemic way and not fall back into a second wave" of COVID-19 cases, Duckworth said.

She said the first 45 to 60 minutes of the call was the "president telling us how great the testing was going and that we had done more tests than anywhere else in the world ... all of which has been proven to be not true."

Duckworth said she was dissatisfied the president and his staff did not answer Democratic or Republican lawmakers' questions, including how many tests were needed to safely restart the economy.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious diseases expert, told ABC's "Good Morning America" Monday the country is running 1.5 million to 2 million tests per week. But, "we really need to get up to, at least, you know, maybe two times that, three times that."

• Daily Herald news services contributed to this report.

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