Joe Biden on Tuesday August 11 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 Donald Trump and Mike Pence and then to lead this nation starting in January 2021,” the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee wrote in an email on Tuesday seen by CNN.
In selecting Harris, Biden adds 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.
Within the pantheon of female candidates that the former vice president considered, Harris was long viewed as the most-likely choice because of the breadth of her experience as a US senator, former California attorney general and former district attorney of San Francisco.
While potential candidates like Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, California US Rep. Karen Bass and Florida Rep. Val Demings were viewed as fresh-faced additions to the ticket, none of them had been vetted by Democratic voters like Harris, nor did they have her experience in all levels of politics.
Who Is Kamala Harris?
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.
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 healthcare 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.