Why Some Democrats Worry About the Whiteness of Biden’s Inner Circle

As a candidate, Mr. Biden has pledged to appoint a cabinet that looks like America, choose a female running mate and nominate a black woman to the Supreme Court.

Those who have worked with Mr. Biden over the years describe him as solicitous of an array of different perspectives. “Otherwise,” said Valerie Jarrett, a top White House adviser to Mr. Obama, “he wouldn’t have been the vice president for Barack Obama for two terms.”

At the same time, Mr. Biden, who was first elected to the Senate in 1972, has often retreated to a familiar set of faces for counsel at critical junctures. His operation is known for its fierce mutual loyalty, and many of his advisers of all backgrounds have remained close for years.

His three chiefs of staff as vice president — Bruce Reed, Steve Ricchetti and Ron Klain, but especially the latter two — remain outsize 2020 influences. Mike Donilon, his chief strategist, has been with him since the 1980s. Mr. Biden’s family, including his sister, Valerie, who managed his previous races, and his longtime Senate chief of staff, Ted Kaufman, are key outside confidantes. Anita Dunn, a senior adviser, and Kate Bedingfield, a deputy campaign manager, wield some of the widest influence over messaging. All are white.

Don Graves, who was Mr. Biden’s counselor as vice president and one of his highest-ranking black aides, said valuing diversity was “fundamental to who Joe Biden is.”

“The fact is that folks like Ricchetti and Ted Kaufman and Mike Donilon have been around the V.P. for a while,” said Mr. Graves, who remains close to Mr. Biden. “But he knows that it’s a different day and he gives a lot of credence to folks like Symone and Cedric and, in some ways, values their input more than the folks who’ve been around for a while.”

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