Choosing the right vice president has rarely, if ever, been more important. Without taking anything away from those already on the Top 10 lists, Joe Biden’s team should consider three more outstanding women leaders who should not be overlooked.

Start with former Gov. Christine Gregoire. Anyone who has served or worked closely with Gregoire knows she has the smarts, the grit, the leadership experience and the integrity to do the job. Her service as Washington’s second female governor, chair of the National Governors Association, head of the state Department of Ecology and state Attorney General place her without question among the most highly qualified of anyone being considered.

On every major issue of concern, Gregoire has a strong record of taking gutsy positions and getting things done. She has shown she can work with Republicans to enact budgets in challenging times to advance a host of issues, including education, infrastructure, health care and the environment. Her service to the state has continued since leaving office, including her leadership now of the group Challenge Seattle. For countless reasons, Washingtonians and the nation would be especially well served by Gregoire as vice president.

Another extraordinarily good choice would be former U.S. National Security Adviser and U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice.

U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice in 2012 (AP Photo  / Evan Vucci)
U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice in 2012 (AP Photo / Evan Vucci)

A Rhodes scholar with impeccable and impressive academic and professional credentials, Rice would bring to the position the strongest foreign-policy experience of any of the candidates. Beginning with the Clinton administration in 1993, Rice served four years and held critical leadership positions on the National Security Council. President Obama nominated her and she became the second youngest person and first ever Black woman to represent our nation at the United Nations.

Some might argue that statements she made following the Benghazi attacks make her a controversial choice. But the fact is even a Republican controlled investigation by the House Intelligence Committee concluded that Rice had faithfully reported the information given to her by the intelligence community. Two other points must be made about this. First, it was a tragedy that four brave Americans died in the Benghazi attacks, but in no way can anyone validly assert that Ambassador Rice caused those deaths. Second, as this column is written, more than 60,000 Americans have needlessly died of COVID-19, with at least some of those deaths caused or contributed to by the irresponsible statements and inaction by President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence and their administration. Indeed, had the incoming Trump team listened to Rice, who briefed them on the very dangers of a pandemic, many Americans might have been spared death and illness.

U.S. Rep. Jackie Speier, D-California, in 2018 (AP Photo / Mark Lennihan)
U.S. Rep. Jackie Speier, D-California, in 2018 (AP Photo / Mark Lennihan)

The third candidate to consider is California Congresswoman Jackie Speier. Now in her 12th year in Congress, she serves on the House Intelligence and Armed Services committees. She is known as a fearless, brilliant and highly principled representative who does her homework and is not afraid to take tough stands. Speier got her start in politics while serving as an aide to her mentor, U.S. Rep. Leo Ryan, who was assassinated while investigating the Jonestown cult. Speier herself was shot five times and nearly died in the incident. Her book, “Undaunted: Surviving Jonestown,” is a riveting read that tells a lot about her courage and character. Having someone with the guts to confront a cult may be just what America needs right now.

In Congress, Speier has fought vigorously on all the important issues, but she is also able to reach across the aisle to get things done. She recently gained substantial attention from her sharp and focused questions of witnesses during the House impeachment hearings.

Knowing Gregoire and Speier relatively well, and having interacted with Ambassador Rice, I have no doubts any one of them would be a superior choice for vice president. Biden is fortunate to have such extraordinarily capable women, in addition to many others, to choose as his running mate.