WASHINGTON • Former US vice-president Joe Biden, a leading contender for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, has said he would consider choosing a Republican running mate if he is the party's nominee next year.
However, even as he suggested that, Mr Biden told a campaign rally in New Hampshire on Monday: "But I can't think of one right now."
Mr Biden has premised much of his presidential bid on appealing to moderate Democrats, independents and Republicans who have been alienated by President Donald Trump.
On the campaign trail, Mr Biden has regularly spoken about the need to work with Republicans in Congress should he prevail in the November 2020 general election.
In response to a question by an attendee at the event, Mr Biden elaborated on his answer, contending that Mr Trump's party has not done enough to hold the President accountable. "There are some really decent Republicans that are out there still, but here's the problem right now," he said. "They've got to step up."
Mr Biden, 77, who served two terms as vice-president to former president Barack Obama and spent 35 years in Congress, has been criticised by progressive Democrats who say he is out of touch with the party's leftward drift and is not interested in reforming the US political system.
The Democrat has previously said he would like to name a woman and/or a person of colour as his running mate if he is the nominee.
National opinion polls continue to show that Mr Biden is the favoured choice among Democratic voters ahead of his more liberal rivals, senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.
Past presidential nominees have flirted with the idea of crossing party lines. In 2008, the Republican pick, the late senator John McCain, wanted his close friend, senator Joe Lieberman, a Democrat-turned-independent, on the ticket before eventually picking Alaska governor Sarah Palin as his vice-presidential choice.
Meanwhile, Mr Sanders' doctors said in letters released on Monday that he has fully recovered from the heart attack he suffered three months ago, and is in good health.
One of the doctors, Dr Martin LeWinter, a cardiologist at the University of Vermont, said the 78-year-old senator from Vermont has made an "uneventful recovery" from the heart attack he suffered in Las Vegas on Oct 1.
"At this point, I see no reason he cannot continue campaigning without limitation and, should he be elected, I am confident he has the mental and physical stamina to fully undertake the rigours of the US presidential residency," Dr LeWinter said.
REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE