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