Biden's early White House transition plans negotiate pressure from both ends of political spectrum

The former vice president is looking to unify in potential administration picks

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden hasn't yet won his race against incumbent Donald Trump, but he's already started working on transition plans in case he does.

With a country divided, the former vice president has said on the campaign trail, he would have the task of reuniting America and restoring its health and economic standing amid the brutal COVID-19 pandemic

If elected, he would face pressure from both sides of the aisle -- with Republicans and more moderate Democrats pushing against a more progressive agenda and the far-left pushing for it -- and delivering early wins would be crucial.


With Election Day days away, the Biden campaign is focused on maintaining what has been a fairly steady edge in national polling, though one that polls indicate is narrowing as President Trump fights furiously to keep the Oval Office.

Should Biden take the presidency, he would need to be ready to name thousands of appointees to fill out his administration, including 700 key executive branch nominations, according to The Associated Press.

If he doesn't plan ahead, he risks withering criticism that he's unprepared to lead. Trump has been berated throughout his first term for the number of vacant administration positions as well as for high turnover at the top.

The Biden transition team told Fox News that its core values for candidates include talent to address society's most complex challenges, integrity and high ethical standards to serve the American people rather than special interests, and transparency to garner trust at every stage. 

Biden is reportedly considering long-term politicians and well-known Democrats, such as Delaware Sen. Chris Coons, longtime confidant Antony Blinken, veteran diplomat Bill Burns or former National Security Adviser Susan Rice for secretary of state. But he is also looking at new names and intending to extend his reach to Republicans. 

It's a strategy that would mirror the "team of rivals" approach touted at the beginning of former President Barack Obama's administration, in which Biden served as vice president for eight years.

Other former presidents including George W. Bush and Bill Clinton have made similar moves. 

Biden is reportedly considering Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, former Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake, former Pennsylvania Rep. Charlie Dent, and Quibi CEO Meg Whitman for cabinet positions and Alabama Sen. Doug Jones for a potential role as Attorney General, according to Politico.

The candidate also gave GOP backers airtime during the virtual Democratic National Convention in August and has tapped Cindy McCain as well. 

The Biden campaign has said "diversity of ideology and background" is a key part of the decision-making process, and Democrats claim calls for change amidst nationwide protests for social and racial justice have been heard. 

Illinois Sen. Tammy Duckworth would be considered for the position of secretary of defense and Atlanta Fed President Raphael Bostic as the first Black and first openly gay Treasury secretary in history, according to Axios.

California Rep. Karen Bass -- who Biden considered for vice president -- could be a housing and urban development secretary, according to The Associated Press. And Bloomberg reported this week that Louisiana Congressman Cedric Richmond could be a contender for chief of staff.

And while Hispanic Democrats complained that there are no Hispanic candidates legitimately in the mix for prominent positions, Vox reported that California Attorney General Xavier Becerra is a leading candidate for Attorney General.

From left, representatives Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich.; Ilhan Omar, D-Minn.; Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y.; and Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., speak at the U.S. Capitol. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

From left, representatives Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich.; Ilhan Omar, D-Minn.; Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y.; and Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., speak at the U.S. Capitol. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

Although the Biden camp has purportedly been trying to give all factions of the Democratic Party a voice, House members including New York firebrand Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Massachusetts Rep. Ayanna Pressley penned a letter in partnership with 39 progressive groups arguing against the appointment of corporate-linked candidates.

Biden's transition office has said it will allow lobbyists into the fold but it will require that they receive a waiver to participate if they have been engaged in such activity over the past year.

Democrats who supported Vermont Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders and Massachusetts Democrat Sen. Elizabeth Warren are sure to take issue with that approach even as former top Roosevelt Institute officials and former Warren aides sit on Biden's staff.

“If he wins, Joe Biden will have a vested interest in maintaining party unity and keeping his approval high so that he has a big stick to push Congress and strong popularity in the midterms," Progressive Change Campaign Committee Co-Founder Adam Green told Fox News. "Nothing would unnecessarily mess that up more than appointing corporate lobbyists to key positions in government."

Many social media users also raised queries over the inclusion of Facebook executive Jessica Hertz as the transition's General Counsel to oversee ethical issues, according to The New York Post

Hertz made the second Big Tech hire for Biden after tapping Twitter’s Director of Public Policy Carlos Monje.

In August, The New York Times reported that eight members of the Biden campaign's 700-strong advisory group work for Facebook, Google, Apple or Amazon.

Lastly, the consideration of former Biden chiefs of staff Bruce Reed and Steve Ricchetti to reprise their old positions have raised the eyebrows of those who saw the transition as a turning point -- though Biden is running on the most progressive platform of any Democratic nominee in recent history.

Yet, with millions of Americans struggling to get back on their feet, Biden may not be able to turn down the help from Obama administration veterans who have spent the last four years on Wall Street or in Silicon Valley.

Obama took office in 2008 during the financial crisis, and members of his administration would have experience dealing with an economic downturn.


Nevertheless, personnel decisions will not be made before Nov. 3, and much of the work is behind-the-scenes.

"The Biden-Harris transition team is not making any personnel decisions pre-election," a spokesperson told Fox News on Friday.

The team is expected to roll out a chief of staff and director of the National Economic Council within days of the election, should Biden win.

The Trump campaign, under the direction of White House deputy chief of staff Chris Liddell, is taking similar steps. Officials there didn't immediately respond to a request for comment from Fox News.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.