By MEG CUNNINGHAM, ABC News(WASHINGTON) — Black women have been at the front of the conversation surrounding possible running mates for former Vice President Joe Biden, but his campaign must be careful when it comes to both his and his potential running mates’ records on police brutality, Dr. Leah Wright Rigueur said on ABC News’ “Powerhouse Politics” podcast. “The campaign is really important. And what’s particularly important for Joe Biden is who he ends up selecting as vice president, not necessarily because vice president has the power to determine the election or the outcome in November,” Wright Rigueur, an ABC News contributor and professor in public policy at Harvard University, told ABC News Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl and Political Director Rick Klein“But whoever he chooses as a running mate signals essentially what Biden and the running mate are going to represent for the party,” she said.Klein asked if Biden’s record on race is an important part of the presidential campaign as the general election approaches.“You have a Democratic nominee, Joe Biden, who’s got his own complicated history with issues of race, as was well-documented in the primary campaign. He’s also been on the record very consistently over the last couple of decades for favoring more police. Is that a challenge for the organizing movement?” Klein asked. “Or does it, to your mind, highlight other avenues for progress that are separate from politics? How important is the campaign in this?”The presidential campaign is an important piece in the puzzle as the country tries to move forward, she said, but the vice presidential pick is also particularly important for Biden.Rep. Val Demings, a Democrat and former law enforcement officer from Florida has said she is being vetted for the position. Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms’ handling of incidents of police brutality in the city has made national news and, as a result, increased her profile as a potential running mate.“And one of the things that the Biden campaign is really going to have to think about with Demings, but also with Harris as well, is how much does that background, particularly as it relates to police brutality, how much does that background actually influence how voters perceive the presidential ticket?” Rigueur said.California Sen. Kamala Harris, a former presidential contender and prosecutor who was once the attorney general of her state, is also widely seen as someone at the top of the list of potential Biden running mates.“And I think it is something to keep in mind, particularly since police brutality, reform are gonna be heavy on the minds of black voters who make up the backbone of the Democratic Party,” Wright Rigueur said. “So their participation and their turnout is vital to any kind of Democratic victory in November.”The widespread nationwide impact, culturally and politically, galvanized by the death of George Floyd, a black man who died on Memorial Day after he was pinned down by a white Minnesota police officer, has been in the center of political conversations for the past few weeks, and Biden has recognized that in recent campaign messaging, Karl said.“We just heard Joe Biden say that the worldwide impact of George Floyd’s killing is something along the order of what we saw in terms of the reaction to the assassination of Martin Luther King. How big of a moment is this?” he asked.“Well, it’s certainly one of the biggest protest moments that we’ve had in the last 30 years. There’s nothing to rival. You know, in recent times, the amount of protests, even global protests that we’re seeing, not just domestically, the kind of protests that we’re seeing on the ground,” Wright Rigueur said. “What these protests are showing is that racism, systemic racism, is racism that is not about the individual, but that it’s built into systems and reinforces these problems, these discriminations, these inequalities and these biases.”Although the movement to dismantle systemic racism is gaining traction, Wright Rigueur said it might be hard for Republicans in Congress to pass legislation that advocates feel might aid in that effort.South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, the sole Black Republican in the Senate, has helmed his party’s participation in conversations about race and police brutality, acting as a figurehead of sorts for the Republican party as they take on legislation to reform policing.Wright Rigueur said that having Scott as a member of the Republican party is important. But it’s also a tricky position for Scott to be in, she said, as he navigates party lines — although it does give the GOP a method for talking about police brutality.“It’s actually important because it gives his party an avenue to talk about police brutality, systemic injustices and things like that,” Wright Rigueur said. “The great tragedy of it is that they can’t really talk about it in this holistic way because they don’t necessarily believe in it.””We saw this today in the press conference where [Scott] had an enormous amount of difficulty saying or talking about ideas of systemic racism, quite literally naming it, because that’s not the bottom line of his party. His party spokesperson, Donald Trump, is like ‘What is systemic racism? No, I don’t believe in that or I don’t know. I don’t have a solution to that,"” she said, referring to the racially-based rules, practices and customs once rooted in law that may have changed over time, resulting in a facade of “equality,” but the residual effects reverberate throughout entire societal systems.The GOP has shown less of a focus toward Trump’s response to the national conversation surrounding race and inequality, and is focusing the conversation to the legislative response, while staying largely tight-lipped about the president’s inflammatory rhetoric and actions.For example, his controversial comments last month suggesting looters in Minneapolis be shot and calling protesters “thugs” marks the latest example of the president choosing to stoke long standing racial divides rather than trying to comfort a hurting community, a reality that critics have said are at odds with his campaign’s effort to court black voters.Wright Rigueur said that the bill introduced by Republicans in the Senate to enact some police reforms is a good start, but she still feels that the party isn’t willing to go far enough to address some of the experiences that Scott has talked about when discussing policing and police brutality, although to her it seems much of the country is ready to have those conversations.“These incidents are actually affecting public culture and our cultural understanding of the moment. I think part of what people are really grappling with is that they’re really trying to define and figure out what racism means,” she said.Wright Rigueur said that recent protests have illuminated for many Americans what their personal biases look like, and that racism is more than an individual interaction.“And so one of the things that we see people latch on to is this idea that racism is an individual interaction, part and parcel, people interact with one another and that’s how they treat one another. But instead, what these protests are showing is that racism — systemic racism — is racism that is not about the individual, but that it’s built into systems and reinforces these problems, these discriminations, these inequalities and these biases. And so that’s what we have to, I think, pay attention to. And that’s what people are beginning to really grapple with,” Wright Rigueur said. Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.