What a presidential candidate's VP pick says about them

Joe Biden speaks during a campaign event on July 14, 2020.

This was excerpted from the August 3 edition of CNN's Meanwhile in America, the daily email about US politics for global readers. Click here to read past editions and subscribe.

(CNN)Potential presidents say a lot about themselves while choosing a number two.

A party nominee might choose a vice president who doubles down on their own appeal — like when Bill Clinton chose the youthful, centrist Southerner Al Gore — or to counter their own weak spots: John F. Kennedy picked Lyndon Johnson, balancing his Northeastern liberal credentials with a conservative Southerner who could deliver his home state of Texas. The last three vice presidents, Dick Cheney, Joe Biden and Mike Pence, offered governing experience to balance out relatively green presidents. The devout Pence also reassured evangelical voters about Donald Trump's hardly pious behavior.
Biden, after 50 years in Washington, doesn't have to worry about inexperience -- but youth could certainly be a consideration. He's already promised to pick a woman, reflecting palpable anger in the Democratic Party over Hillary Clinton's defeat and a sense that sexism was partly to blame. Going with one of several Black candidates for VP could offer further historical redress. But for ideological balance, he could choose someone like Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, a champion of the left, to set against his own moderate credentials.
    Then there are the practical considerations: Biden would be the oldest president inaugurated for a first term, and he has acknowledged the possibility that his vice president could be called upon to take over. That's one reason why a super-capable White House insider like Susan Rice, who would be a controversial political pick, has seen her star rise. It also helps if presidents and vice presidents get along, which usually means the number two stifling their own ambitions. Sen. Kamala Harris of California, long one of the favorites for Biden's VP spot, rejects claims that she might be a little too interested in the 2024 nomination.
      Above all, Biden must avoid damaging his own hopes. In 2008, Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona shocked the political world by choosing a little-known Alaskan named Sarah Palin. It worked great when the self-described "pit bull" gave an electrifying convention speech. But soon she was being lampooned on late-night TV. Few saw her as a potential president, and the ticket soon lost to Barack Obama and his more effective pick -- Biden.

      'Do we think pubs are more important than schools?'

      It could soon be last orders in England's newly reopened pubs. Amid signs of a coronavirus resurgence in the UK, a top government adviser has warned thirsty Brits that they may have to choose between their pints and allowing schools to restart in the fall as hoped.
      "Closing some of the other networks, some of the other activities, may well be required to enable us to open schools. It might come down to a question of which do you trade off against each other, and then that's a matter of prioritizing. Do we think pubs are more important than schools?" Professor Graham Medley -- who chairs the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies subgroup on pandemic modeling -- told BBC radio Saturday.
      Pubs and bars worldwide have become hot spots for the disease. In Scotland, which recently opened pubs, a bar in the northeastern city of Aberdeen already appears to have emerged as the source of a Covid-19 cluster. In the United States, some officials are increasingly frustrated that months of shutdowns are being squandered by Americans now flocking to bars -- in Ohio alone, 46 bars and restaurants have been cited for violations related to Covid-19 since May.
      On this side of the pond, it may be too late to weigh the beer vs. books tradeoff. Despite President Donald Trump's demands for all schools to reopen, many districts have already decided that kids will start the year with online learning. Universities are following suit. Given the current out-of-control spread of the virus and the fears of a second wave in winter, there's a good chance American students will be stuck at home for many more months.
      And that may just drive more and more parents to drink.

        'This epidemic right now is different'

        White House coronavirus task force coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx on Sunday said the US is in a new phase in its fight against the pandemic -- and it's not a good one. "What we are seeing today is different from March and April. It is extraordinarily widespread. It's into the rural as equal urban areas," she told CNN's Dana Bash. "To everybody who lives in a rural area, you are not immune or protected from this virus," Birx said. "This epidemic right now is different." A new ensemble forecast published by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention projects more than 173,000 American deaths by August 22.