(CN) — An effusive Joe Biden made his first appearance with his running mate Kamala Harris at Dupont High School in Wilmington, Delaware, on Wednesday, ramping up the 2020 presidential campaign season.
The presumptive Democratic nominee and his pick for vice president both made a case for why they should supplant President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence as the heads of the executive branch.
“We don’t have to accept the failed government of Donald Trump and Mike Pence, and in 83 days we will have a chance to choose a better future,” Harris said.
Harris is the first Black and first Asian-American woman to ever appear on a major-party presidential ticket, a fact Democrats say is crucial as the United States continues to grapple with issues surrounding racial equity.
“I want to recognize the heroic and ambitious women who came before me, whose resilience and determination make my presence today here possible,” she said.
Biden said Harris was a perfect person to join him on the Democratic ticket as the presidential election looms.
“Kamala is smart, tough, she’s experienced and she’s a proven fighter for the backbone of this country, the middle class,” Biden said. “She’s ready for the job from day one.”
Biden noted Wednesday was the third anniversary of the 2017 clash between white supremacists peaceful protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia. He said he decided that day to run for president, after Trump said those on both sides of the issue were “very fine people.”
“It was a wakeup call for the country,” Biden said. “That’s why I decided to run.”
It was no mistake that Biden invoked the anniversary of a sitting U.S. president calling avowed white supremacists “fine people” as he introduced the first black woman to appear on a presidential ticket.
Biden used the event to lay out a case against Trump too, saying the administration’s mismanagement of the coronavirus pandemic is responsible for the economic difficulties the country continues to experience.
Harris also hit out at Trump burnishing her bona fides as a running mate who can press the case against the incumbent early and often on the campaign trail.
“This is a moment of real consequence,” Harris said. “The economy, our health, our children and the kind of county we want to live in … it’s all on the line.”
The appearance marked the first live event for the Democratic Party in five months since the coronavirus first prompted several states to shut down and forced Biden to retreat to his home in Delaware where he has preferred remote interviews to in-person events traditional to a campaign.
According to the pool report, a couple hundred supporters gathered outside the high school gymnasium, waving signs including one that said “Representation matters.”
The decision to select Harris has been widely hailed in Democratic circles, as the 55-year-old junior Senator from California brings youth and diversity to the ticket that offsets Biden’s reputation as a staid standard-bearer for the Democratic establishment.
Harris is firmly entrenched in the moderate wing of the party, which may risk alienating the Bernie Sanders acolytes in the progressive wing. However, her political orientation will also serve to pre-empt the Trump campaign from trying to paint Biden and Harris as handmaidens to a revolutionary brand of socialism.
Both have emphasized the need for American politics to restore a sense of decency, with Harris mentioning Charlottesville as a turning point for Biden and for the country.