HAR­RIS MAKES HIS­TORY

Biden chooses Cal­i­for­nia se­na­tor as run­ning mate, mak­ing her the first Black woman to be part of a ma­jor party’s pres­i­den­tial ticket

Chicago Sun-Times - - FRONT PAGE - BY KATHLEEN RON­AYNE AND WILL WEIS­SERT

WILM­ING­TON, Del. — Joe Biden named Cal­i­for­nia Sen. Ka­mala Har­ris as his run­ning mate on Tues­day, mak­ing his­tory by select­ing the first Black woman to com­pete on a ma­jor party’s pres­i­den­tial ticket and ac­knowl­edg­ing the vi­tal role Black vot­ers will play in his bid to de­feat Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump.

In choos­ing Har­ris, Biden is em­brac­ing a for­mer ri­val from the Demo­cratic pri­mary who is fa­mil­iar with the unique rigor of a na­tional cam­paign. The 55-year-old first-term se­na­tor, who is also of South Asian de­scent, is one of the party’s most prom­i­nent fig­ures. She quickly be­came a top con­tender for the No. 2 spot af­ter her own White House cam­paign ended.

She will ap­pear with Biden for the first time as his run­ning mate at an event Wed­nes­day near his home in Wilm­ing­ton, Delaware.

In an­nounc­ing the pick, Biden called Har­ris a “fear­less fighter for the lit­tle guy, and one of the coun­try’s finest pub­lic ser­vants.” She said Biden would “unify the Amer­i­can peo­ple” and “build an Amer­ica that lives up to our ideals.”

Har­ris joins Biden at a mo­ment of un­prece­dented na­tional cri­sis. The coro­n­avirus pan­demic has claimed the lives of more than 160,000 peo­ple in the U.S. Un­rest, mean­while, has emerged across the coun­try as Amer­i­cans protest racism and po­lice bru­tal­ity.

Trump told re­porters on Tues­day he was “a lit­tle sur­prised” that Biden picked Har­ris, point­ing to their de­bate stage dis­putes dur­ing the pri­mary. Trump, who has do­nated to her pre­vi­ous cam­paigns, ar­gued she was “about the most lib­eral per­son in the U.S. Se­nate.”

“I would have thought that Biden would have tried to stay away from that a lit­tle bit,” he said.

Chicago Mayor Lori Light­foot tweeted that Har­ris “is the right choice for this mo­ment. Amer­i­cans are cry­ing out for jus­tice, and Ka­mala has the ex­pe­ri­ence to bring re­form and eq­uity to our sys­tem and all lev­els of gov­ern­ment.”

Har­ris’ record as Cal­i­for­nia at­tor­ney gen­eral and dis­trict at­tor­ney in San Francisco was heav­ily scru­ti­nized dur­ing the Demo­cratic pri­mary and turned away some lib­er­als and younger Black vot­ers who saw her as out of step on is­sues of racism in the le­gal sys­tem and po­lice bru­tal­ity. She de­clared her­self a “pro­gres­sive pros­e­cu­tor” who backs law en­force­ment re­forms.

A woman has never served as pres­i­dent or vice pres­i­dent in the United States. Hil­lary Clin­ton was the Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee in 2016. Two women have been nom­i­nated as run­ning mates on ma­jor party tick­ets: Demo­crat Geral­dine Fer­raro in 1984 and Repub­li­can Sarah Palin in 2008. Their par­ties lost in Novem­ber. Fer­raro died in 2011. Palin con­grat­u­lated Har­ris via Twit­ter on Tues­day.

Har­ris, born in 1964 to a Ja­maican fa­ther and In­dian mother, spent much of her for­ma­tive years in Berke­ley, Cal­i­for­nia. She has of­ten spo­ken of the deep bond she shared with her mother, whom she has called her sin­gle big­gest in­flu­ence.

Har­ris launched her pres­i­den­tial cam­paign in early 2019, but her law en­force­ment back­ground prompted skep­ti­cism from some pro­gres­sives. Fac­ing fundrais­ing prob­lems, she abruptly with­drew from the race in De­cem­ber 2019, two months be­fore the first votes of the pri­mary were cast.

One stand­out mo­ment of her pres­i­den­tial cam­paign came at the ex­pense of Biden. Dur­ing a de­bate, she said Biden made “very hurt­ful” com­ments about his past work with seg­re­ga­tion­ist sen­a­tors and slammed his op­po­si­tion to school bus­ing in the 1970s.

“There was a lit­tle girl in Cal­i­for­nia who was a part of the se­cond class to in­te­grate her pub­lic schools, and she was bused to school ev­ery day,” she said. “And that lit­tle girl was me.”

Sen. Ka­mala Har­ris GETTY IMAGES FILE PHOTO

PAUL SANCYA/AP

For­mer Vice Pres­i­dent Joe Biden and Cal­i­for­nia Sen. Ka­mala Har­ris shake hands July 31, 2019, be­fore a Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial pri­mary de­bate in Detroit.

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