In the United States of America, Joe Biden has named Kamala Harris as his running mate, making the California senator the first Black and South Asian American woman to run on a major political party’s presidential ticket.
“I’ve decided that Kamala Harris is the best person to help me take this fight to Trump and Mike Pence and then to lead this nation starting in January 2021,” the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee wrote in an email Tuesday.
The two are set to appear together for the first time for a speech Wednesday in Wilmington, Delaware.
Biden’s campaign has not yet said what time that speech will take place. In selecting Harris, Biden adds to the Democratic ticket a former primary rival who centered her own presidential bid on her readiness to take on Donald Trump and show Americans she would fight for them.
She rose to national prominence within the Democratic Party by interrogating Trump nominees during Senate hearings, from former Attorney General Jeff Sessions to Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
Harris’ selection comes months after Biden committed to picking a woman to join him on the Democratic ticket. Harris, 55, is now the third woman to serve as a vice presidential candidate for a major political party, following Geraldine Ferraro as the Democratic vice presidential pick in 1984 and Sarah Palin as the Republican vice presidential pick in 2008.
Aware that his age could be a concern to some voters, Biden, 77, has said that he is “a bridge” to a new slate of Democratic leaders, and by selecting Harris, more than 20 years his junior, he has elevated a leading figure from a younger generation within the party.
Why Harris was chosen
Harris started out in the vice presidential search process as a favorite because of her experience as a senator, California attorney general and district attorney in San Francisco and her extensive vetting as a presidential candidate.
Ultimately, she was chosen by Joe Biden the “common sense pick” who everybody could agree would “do no harm,” a source familiar with the vetting process told CNN.
With her multi-racial background as the child of two immigrants to the United States, her allies believed she could complement Biden as a symbol of a changing America.
She also proved to be a hardworking surrogate for Biden in recent months, taking part in everything from virtual policy events with voters in swing districts to a live DJ dance party fundraiser with Diplo and D-Nice online.When Trump tweeted about delaying the election in late July, she responded on Twitter by saying he is “terrified” because “he knows he’s going to lose to @JoeBiden.
It will require every single one of us to make that happen.”Still, some members of Biden’s team resisted choosing Harris. A recent Politico story noted that former Sen. Chris Dodd of Connecticut, who was helping vet candidates, was still galled by her attack on Biden during a June 2019 debate in Miami, when she criticized his work with segregationist senators and highlighted his fight against busing to desegregate schools decades ago.
The pushback against Harris apparently became so strong that Biden felt the need to defend her during his July 28 press conference, where an Associated Press photo captured the talking points about her on his notecard that included “do not hold grudges” and “great help to campaign.
“Harris also benefited from being a running mate who could match this turbulent moment in American history.Many of the issues at the center of her life’s work — including criminal justice reform, improving health care for Black Americans and tackling income inequality — have come to the forefront in the three-pronged crisis America is now facing: the coronavirus pandemic (which has disproportionately affected communities of color), the fight against systemic racism and an economic recession.
The protests against police brutality of Black people in the wake of George Floyd’s death also gave Harris an opening to more succinctly explain her decision to become a prosecutor as a young lawyer, despite the deep mistrust of that profession among Black Americans who have been wronged by the criminal justice system.
During the recent “Live Free” forum, the California senator was asked what she says to activists and voters who contend that as attorney general, she was part of the system and don’t trust her to be part of the change within it. Harris said she grew up experiencing some of the abuses of the system, noting that every Black man she knows has experienced “some form of profiling, of excessive force, of unreasonable stop or seizure.
“She noted that she made a very conscious decision to become a prosecutor: “I said why do we only have to be on the outside, trying to knock down doors to change the system? … Isn’t there a role for us to go inside the system and try to change it?”She pointed to aspects of her record as California’s attorney general that she said were incremental steps toward police reform: arguing that she “opened up California’s data system” to assist activists who were trying to “claw that information out” through public records requests — making data around deaths, custody and arrest rates by race more accessible.
Harris also highlighted her work improving re-entry initiatives for the formerly incarcerated, and a program that required implicit racial bias and procedural justice training for law enforcement officers under her command when she was California’s attorney general.”These are just a few of the things that we were able to accomplish, certainly not enough, which is why I keep working on it. It has been my life’s work to keep working on this and I’m not going to stop,” she said.