- Presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden has chosen California Sen. Kamala Harris to be his running mate.
- The announcement caps off a monthslong process that saw nearly a dozen prospective running mates ve3tter.
- Harris is the first Black woman to join a major party ticket.
WASHINGTON – Former Vice President Joe Biden has chosen Sen. Kamala Harris of California to join him on the Democratic ticket, fulfilling his pledge to select a female running mate and making Harris the first Black person ever tapped as the vice presidential nominee of a major party.
His campaign announced the pick Tuesday afternoon through his webpage.
“Back when Kamala was Attorney General, she worked closely with Beau,” tweeted Biden, referring to his late son, Beau Biden. “I watched as they took on the big banks, lifted up working people, and protected women and kids from abuse. I was proud then, and I’m proud now to have her as my partner in this campaign.”
Biden’s selection of Harris, 55, lends racial diversity, gender parity and generational breadth to his campaign. It also represents a strategic decision by the 77-year-old former vice president to keep his ticket firmly within the more moderate wing of the Democratic Party.
The selection came despite a monthslong pressure campaign from leftist factions that wanted Biden to pick a progressive star like Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts. Harris’ selection also complicates efforts by incumbent President Donald Trump and his campaign apparatus to portray Biden as a tool of the “radical left.”
Harris has a uniquely American biography: Her mother was a widely respected breast cancer researcher who immigrated to the United States from India in the 1960s. Her father, Donald Harris, is an eminent economist who spent much of his career at Stanford University. Also an immigrant, Harris moved to the United States from Jamaica around the time his future wife came from India.
A first-term senator who served as California’s attorney general from 2010-16, Harris has drawn on her personal and professional experience to emerge as a leader in the Senate on racial justice issues.
“We’ve all watched her hold the Trump administration accountable for its corruption, stand up to a Justice Department that’s run amok, and be a powerful voice against their extreme nominations,” said Biden in his announcement Tuesday, touting her experience in the Senate.
“She’s been a leader on criminal justice and marriage equality. And she has focused like a laser on the racial disparities as a result of the coronavirus,” Biden said.
A member of the Judiciary Committee, Harris in 2018 co-sponsored the first-ever bill to make lynching a federal crime. The bill passed the Senate and the House overwhelmingly, but a final version was blocked by Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky.
Harris was also a co-author this spring of Democrats’ broader police reform legislation, drafted in response to the national uprising that followed the death of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man killed by Minneapolis police in May, and the fatal police shooting of Breonna Taylor, a Black EMT, at her home in Louisville, Kentucky, in March.
Yet Harris, like Biden himself, is considered by many in Washington to be a moderate, pragmatic lawmaker rather than an ideologue. Harris has also repeatedly teamed with Republican colleagues to draft legislation during her first three years in the Senate.
This includes working on an election security bill with Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., the anti-lynching bill with Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., and a workplace harassment prevention bill with Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska.
Harris has even won plaudits from Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and a staunch Trump ally – albeit one whose personal friendship with Biden goes back some 30 years.
Speaking to radio host Hugh Hewitt about Harris in May, Graham said, “I think she’s the leading candidate [for Biden’s running mate]. I know her. I didn’t like what she did in the Kavanaugh [Supreme Court confirmation] hearings by any stretch of the imagination. But she’s hard-nosed. She’s smart. She’s tough.”
The announcement comes after a four-month selection process that saw at least a dozen prominent women vetted for the position.
The vice presidential selection committee was headed by former Sen. Chris Dodd of Connecticut, one of Biden’s oldest friends. Other members included Biden campaign co-chair Eric Garcetti, the mayor of Los Angeles; Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester, who represents Biden’s home state of Delaware in the House; and Cynthia Hogan, who served as counsel to Biden in the Senate and later in the Obama administration.
Throughout the process, insiders say, Biden’s top priority has always been to select a vice president he can trust, someone with whom Biden can have the same deep personal relationship he had with President Barack Obama during his eight years as vice president.
Biden’s strategy for choosing a running mate has evolved over the past few months as his lead over President Donald Trump in national polls and battleground states has increased.
During the late winter and spring, when Biden was still locked in a primary battle against Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, many on his campaign team saw the vice presidential pick primarily as a chance for Biden to name a progressive who could help him unite the establishment arm of the Democratic Party with its left flank.
But as Biden’s lead over Trump grew in the late spring and summer, progressive Democrats coalesced around him.
By early July, instead of needing a VP who could help galvanize support on the left, Biden’s advisors had come to believe he merely needed one who would “do no harm” to his strong standing in the polls.
Now that Joe Biden is the de facto 2020 Democratic nominee for President, he’s free to announce his running mate any time he wants.
RELATED: August 11, 2020: Obama Congratulates Biden’s first African American VP Pick
Because there are so many people who are obvious candidates for the job, it’s led to endless speculation. We’ve also seen factions surface on social media, pushing for various people to be his running mate. Here’s the thing to keep in mind.
RELATED: August 11, 2020: Obama Congratulates Biden’s VP Pick
We’re seeing a phenomenal amount of push on social media for Joe Biden to pick Kamala Harris. There’s good reason to think she could be it. Biden has already publicly confirmed that his pick will be a woman. Biden keeps holding events with Harris. And last week Biden made very clear during a recent online event that he wants Harris to be a core part of his administration.
But this doesn’t mean she’s going to be his Vice President. Biden could just as easily be referring to Kamala Harris as Attorney General. We don’t know if Kamala would rather be VP or AG. VP is higher ranking, but AG is her wheelhouse. She’d excel at either, but we don’t know what she wants, let alone what Biden wants. Also keep in mind that cabinet positions aren’t traditionally announced until after you win an election. Biden can announce his cabinet now, but it would be an unusual move. So even if Biden doesn’t pre-announce Kamala for AG, he could still be planning to do it.
The point is, we don’t know what’s going on behind the scenes. A lot more usually goes into these decision making processes than ever does become public. If Biden makes a pick that doesn’t make sense to you, consider that you don’t know everything that he does about the situation. There could be offers made, and offers turned down, that we’ll never know about.
You’re also going to see a number of false stories about who Biden’s going to pick. When it comes to this kind of thing, the media knows it can run with “leaks” from the most unreliable of sources, with no repercussions, because no one knows the real truth yet anyway. Even Biden’s own allies could end up leaking that he’s going to pick this or that name, because they’re trying to publicly pressure him into picking that person. Of course these leaks usually come from “allies” who aren’t particularly close to the candidate, or they wouldn’t be resorting to such desperate tactics, so these kinds of leaks are not usually enlightening.
Biden’s timetable is tricky. He’s already the nominee, so he can announce his VP at any time. But with the pandemic, the media isn’t giving much attention to what Biden says or does. Why waste the VP announcement now, when he can wait a few weeks and get more traction from it?
Poll numbers make clear that Trump isn’t helping himself by hogging all the attention with this daily press briefings. Biden pops up here and there, in order to remind people why he’s the better choice, but he’s mostly letting Trump hang himself for now. Why interrupt Trump’s mistakes, by asking for attention with an early VP rollout?