Biden selects California Sen. Kamala Harris as running mate

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. Harris, a 55-year-old first-term senator, is also one of the party’s most prominent figures and quickly became a top contender for the No. 2 spot after her own White House campaign ended.

Harris joins Biden in the 2020 race at a moment of unprecedented national crisis. The coronavirus pandemic has claimed the lives of more than 150,000 people in the U.S., far more than the toll experienced in other countries. Business closures and disruptions resulting from the pandemic have caused an economic collapse. Unrest, meanwhile, has emerged across the country as Americans protest racism and police brutality.

Trump’s uneven handling of the crises has given Biden an opening, and he enters the fall campaign in strong position against the president. In adding Harris to the ticket, he can point to her relatively centrist record on issues such as health care and her background in law enforcement in the nation’s largest state.

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

Biden, who spent eight years as President Barack Obama’s vice president, has spent months weighing who would fill that same role in his White House. He pledged in March to select a woman as his vice president, easing frustration among Democrats that the presidential race would center on two white men in their 70s.

Biden’s search was expansive, including Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a leading progressive, Florida Rep. Val Demings, whose impeachment prosecution of Trump won plaudits, California Rep. Karen Bass, who leads the Congressional Black Caucus, former Obama national security adviser Susan Rice and Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, whose passionate response to unrest in her city garnered national attention.

A woman has never served as president or vice president in the United States. Two women have been nominated as running mates on major party tickets: Democrat Geraldine Ferraro in 1984 and Republican Sarah Palin in 2008. Their party lost in the general election.

The vice presidential pick carries increased significance this year. If elected, Biden would be 78 when he’s inaugurated in January, the oldest man to ever assume the presidency. He’s spoken of himself as a transitional figure and hasn’t fully committed to seeking a second term in 2024. If he declines to do so, his running mate would likely become a front-runner for the nomination that year.

Born in Oakland to a Jamaican father and Indian mother, Harris won her first election in 2003 when she became San Francisco’s district attorney. In the role, she created a reentry program for low-level drug offenders and cracked down on student truancy.

She was elected California’s attorney general in 2010, the first woman and Black person to hold the job, and focused on issues including the foreclosure crisis. She declined to defend the state’s Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriage and was later overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court.

As her national profile grew, Harris built a reputation around her work as a prosecutor. After being elected to the Senate in 2016, she quickly gained attention for her assertive questioning of Trump administration officials during congressional hearings. In one memorable moment last year, Harris tripped up Attorney General William Barr when she repeatedly pressed him on whether Trump or other White House officials pressured him to investigate certain people.

Harris launched her presidential campaign in early 2019 with the slogan “Kamala Harris For the People,” a reference to her courtroom work. She was one of the highest-profile contenders in a crowded Democratic primary and attracted 20,000 people to her first campaign rally in Oakland.

But the early promise of her campaign eventually faded. Her law enforcement background prompted skepticism from some progressives, and she struggled to land on a consistent message that resonated with voters. Facing fundraising problems, Harris abruptly withdrew from the race in December 2019, two months before the first votes of the primary were cast.

One of Harris’ standout moments of her presidential campaign came at the expense of Biden. During a debate, Harris said Biden made “very hurtful” comments about his past work with segregationist senators and slammed his opposition to busing as schools began to integrate 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.”

Shaken by the attack, Biden called her comments “a mischaracterization of my position.”

The exchange resurfaced recently one of Biden’s closest friends and a co-chair of his vice presidential vetting committee, former Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd, still harbors concerns about the debate and that Harris hadn’t expressed regret. The comments attributed to Dodd and first reported by Politico drew condemnation, especially from influential Democratic women who said Harris was being held to a standard that wouldn’t apply to a man running for president.

Some Biden confidants said Harris’ campaign attack did irritate the former vice president, who had a friendly relationship with her. Harris was also close with Biden’s late son, Beau, who served as Delaware attorney general while she held the same post in California.

But Biden and Harris have since returned to a warm relationship.

“Joe has empathy, he has a proven track record of leadership and more than ever before we need a president of the United States who understands who the people are, sees them where they are, and has a genuine desire to help and knows how to fight to get us where we need to be,” Harris said at an event for Biden earlier this summer.

At the same event, she bluntly attacked Trump, labeling him a “drug pusher” for his promotion of the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for the coronavirus, which has not been proved to be an effective treatment and may even be more harmful. After Trump tweeted “when the looting starts, the shooting starts” in response to protests about the death of George Floyd, a Black man, in police custody, Harris said his remarks “yet again show what racism looks like.”

Harris has taken a tougher stand on policing since Floyd’s killing. She co-sponsored legislation in June that would ban police from using chokeholds and no-knock warrants, set a national use-of-force standard and create a national police misconduct registry, among other things. It would also reform the qualified immunity system that shields officers from liability.

The list included practices Harris did not vocally fight to reform while leading California’s Department of Justice. Although she required DOJ officers to wear body cameras, she did not support legislation mandating it statewide. And while she now wants independent investigations of police shootings, she didn’t support a 2015 California bill that would have required her office to take on such cases.

“We made progress, but clearly we are not at the place yet as a country where we need to be and California is no exception,” she told The Associated Press recently. But the national focus on racial injustice now shows “there’s no reason that we have to continue to wait.”

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45 thoughts on “Biden selects California Sen. Kamala Harris as running mate

    1. She’s certainly smarter and more well-spoken and can string together several sentences in a row with a vocabulary north of 3rd grade, but she won’t be debating the orange one head to head.

    2. Huh? She will be debating Mike Pence, not Trump. I guess a democrat would not know that.

    1. Shhh, we’re not suppose to ask that question. We’re suppose to ignore the requirements in the Constitution about being a natural born citizen. This lib da think that means if you were born in the United States.

    2. History lesson time since you are too busy to research it yourself, and an Indiana case if it makes you feel better, “In 2009 in Ankeny v. Governor, the Indiana Court of Appeals reaffirmed that persons born within the borders of the United States are “natural born Citizens”, regardless of the citizenship of their parents.”

    3. Furthermore, even if Obama had been born in Kenya as Trump had alleged, he would still be eligible to be president because his mother was born in Kansas (last I heard that’s in America) and thus he is automatically an American.

  1. Pence can be articulate… ..but so do dang stiff…

    (white man can’t jump) — look it up

    He had a decent radio program on wibc years ago…I’m getting old

    It would be a interesting debate

    I’d put $$ on her in the end..

  2. I wonder if she rubbed Biden’s Harry legs like he claims his neighborhood kids do to get the nomination. She rubbed a lot of legs and other things to get where she is, according to many sources. Her and Biden both are just puppets of AOC and the squad

    1. Bryan H., way to roll out the misogyny on Day 1. She an intelligent woman, not a whore as you suggest.

  3. Better her than the governor of Michigan. We already know California would give their electoral votes to a pig wearing lipstick. This might keep Michigan in play.

    1. Nope. Michigan goes for Biden-Harris, as do a number of other swing states. Trump is doomed, and deservedly so.

    1. The orange one will lose in MI. Biden is up by an average of 7.5% in the most recent polls

  4. If he does that shows how dumb people in Michigan are. You would think they would have learned after Clinton and Obama totally ruined their state

    1. I guess that just shows that the two Republican governors during that period (John Engler and Rick Snyder) were ineffective? Governors have more influence over the success of their states that presidents do.

  5. Detroit Michigan is a perfect example of what Democrats will do to a city, Indianapolis is becoming a good example. Detroit has never recovered because businesses will not come back

    1. I am a Republican. Have you forgotten what a disaster Greg Ballard was? There is only one party in Indianapolis…it’s the green party as in money.

  6. Since she is actually the one who would be prez, she would do to the country what Dem mayors snd governors have done to their cities and states. Rhea is always on target. God help this country. I seriously doubt readers of IBJ are racist, so drop the race stuff. It is about libs – not race.

    1. She’s going to do what liberal cities have done? Great! They produce more in GDP than rural America, and generally have fairly diversified economies and populations. I hope that spreads to rural America!

    2. Thanks Susie D. The large cities run by our Demo friends are an absolute disaster. Finally it looks like a few mayors are trying to restore order-about 4 weeks too late. The Dems are so afraid to disenfranchise the far political left that they won’t denounce senseless rioting and destruction. Why? Because if they do they know they have no chance in November. It is really a sad state of affairs.

  7. California was already a blue state. For the GOP this was the best pick possible. She is an angry lady. Her debate performances always ended in attack mode with her “friend” Biden at the top of her hit list. It is strange when she announced she was gonna run she was polling 20+% and went backwards every time she opened her mouth. Her campaign pretty much imploded with poor management. She is gonna attack Trump nonstop so Biden won’t have too. Past performance says this will hurt her ticket.

  8. Trump does not intend to bail out the Blues with COVID funds. Liberal run cities are on fire with violence and looting. I know your channels have not been covering this news. That is why you are clueless. Sad you are so uninformed and don’t even know current events. It is best to watch all three of the cable news networks and the 6:30 PM national news. “Liberals” are rigid, inflexible, and intolerant – anything but liberal and progressive in thought. Let’s hope The Intolerants don’ win, as regressive policies will take the country backward.

    1. “It is best to watch all three of the cable news networks and the 6:30 PM national news.”

      You do release these are entertainment networks and not necessarily good journalistic news sources. Diversify your news and information sources. Cable TV is not the place to learn history/political theory.

      “Liberal run cities are on fire with violence and looting”

      You are falling for propaganda and fear mongering.

    2. I think you replied to the wrong comment. I did not mean to imply that the looting in Chicago (which you didn’t specify) is fake or propaganda itself, but you have to admit that just because there has been a spat of looting in Chicago, does not equate to “Liberal run cities are on fire with violence and looting”. It’s reckless and irresponsible to spread that equivalency. Knowing about “current events” does not make you smarter or somehow enlightened; context, history, and the effects of the current events is what makes someone informed.

      Additionally, the problems Chicago is facing at the moment does not somehow mean that “Blues” (your term) don’t need assistance (monetary, leadership, healthcare, etc.) when facing a nationwide pandemic (many states needing aid are “Reds” btw). It appears that you’ve picked a side though, using childish names to otherize those you disagree with and deem less than.

    1. Her mother is from Tamil Nadu, India and her father is from British Jamaica. She was born in Oakland, California.

    2. I read the Star and the WSJ and soak up news from multiple other sources. I realize all are slanted and present the propaganda they wish to share with viewers. Who doesn’t know that….The looting and violence is filmed. If you don’t believe it, then go to Chicago and walk down the Mag Mile and tell me what happened there.

    1. He’s an “empty vessel,” and the party – not Biden – selected a “Berkeley radical” as his running mate. She’s the actual candidate for president.