Fulfilling a Debate Promise, Biden Picks Kamala Harris as Running Mate

Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., speaks at the Blue Jamboree on Oct. 5, 2019, in North Charleston, S.C. (AP Photo/Meg Kinnard)

(CN) — Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden selected California Senator Kamala Harris as his running mate Tuesday, upholding a debate promise to pick a woman to round out his ticket.

“Back when Kamala was attorney general, she worked closely with Beau,” Biden tweeted Tuesday, referring to his oldest son. “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.”

Beau Biden died of brain cancer in 2015 after embarking on a political career that included a stop as Delaware’s attorney general. 

If Biden and Harris prove successful in their bid to unseat Republican incumbent President Donald Trump on Nov. 3, Harris would be the first female vice president — and the first vice president of color — in U.S. history.

Biden has also indicated that he believes Harris is ready to be president from day one, something he stressed was important as the former vice president turns 78 in November. The pair will make their first appearance as a ticket at a campaign event in Delaware on Wednesday.

Harris tweeted out her eagerness to tackle the job on Tuesday, saying Biden can unify the country. 

“I’m honored to join him as our party’s nominee for Vice President, and do what it takes to make him our Commander-in-Chief,” Harris said. 

Biden pledged to select a woman as vice president this past March, after it became increasingly clear that the Democratic Party — which made racial diversity at the highest levels of the public and private sectors a major focus — would come down to a nomination battle between two older white men, Biden and Senator Bernie Sanders from Vermont. 

Long the favorite, Harris brings diversity and youth to the Democratic ticket, both of which are seen as sorely needed on Biden’s ticket. Unlike others vying to be Biden’s running mate, Harris has extensive political experience, serving as California’s attorney general and then as the Golden State’s junior U.S. senator — becoming the first African American and the first Indian American to represent the state in the Senate. She defeated fellow Democrat Loretta Sanchez in 2016 to replace outgoing Senator Barbara Boxer.

Harris was never considered a lock for the ticket, partly because she and Biden locked horns early and often during the primary season. In the first debate, Harris attacked Biden for his opposition to school busing programs and for working with segregationists during his career. People with the Biden campaign have said the attack and Harris’ subsequent downplaying of it had created trust issues with Biden, who ranks personal rapport very high. Biden’s decision seems to indicate both parties have moved on from the earlier conflict. 

In addition to noting her work during the Great Recession with his son, Biden also praised Harris’ work on the Senate Judiciary Committee where she took on issues related to corruption, election interference and women’s rights. 

“Kamala doesn’t hesitate to take on powerful people and powerful interests, and that’s exactly the kind of leader Joe wants by his side to rebuild this country and restore the soul of the nation,” the Biden campaign said Tuesday. 

The National Women’s Political Caucus praised Biden’s choice but urged caution.

“We saw what happened to Hillary Clinton, NWPC co-founder Shirley Chisholm and Geraldine Ferraro as they sought the presidency and vice presidency. They were viciously attacked by those who did not want to see a woman in one of the most powerful positions in this country,” the group said in a statement. “The members of the NWPC look forward to supporting Senator Harris through our caucuses across the country. We will defend her and she will feel our support.”

The Trump campaign blasted the choice of Harris in a release issued Tuesday, saying Harris was a hypocrite and a tool of the radical left. 

“Not long ago, Kamala Harris called Joe Biden a racist and asked for an apology she never received. Clearly, Phony Kamala will abandon her own morals, as well as try to bury her record as a prosecutor, in order to appease the anti-police extremists controlling the Democrat Party,” the Trump campaign said in a statement.

Harris, 55, grew up in Oakland, California, the daughter of an Indian immigrant who left her homeland to pursue a degree in economics at UC Berkeley. Harris’ father was an economics professor at Stanford who immigrated to the United States from Jamaica. 

After spending part of her childhood in Montreal, Harris returned to the United States to attend Howard University. She earned a law degree from UC Hastings School of Law. 

She began her career as a prosecutor for the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office, but soon left to work at various positions in the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office. 

Harris began her political career in 2003, becoming San Francisco’s DA by beating an incumbent. She was the top cop in San Francisco until she ran to become California’s top cop in 2011. 

During her time as both DA and attorney general, Harris argued for the prosecution of parents of truant children, one of several positions she took as prosecutor that earned the ire of progressives during the 2020 primaries, as reform of the criminal justice system and its orientation toward minority populations in America became a major issue. 

Nonetheless, Harris garnered endorsements from a range of prominent Democratic politicians during her run including Boxer, Senator Dianne Feinstein and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Other candidates the Biden campaign vetted include Susan Rice, a former ambassador to the United Nations during the Obama administration, and Senator Tammy Duckworth of Illinois. 

Rice tweeted out her support on Tuesday. 

“I warmly congratulate Senator Kamala Harris on her selection as Joe Biden’s Vice Presidential running mate,” Rice said. “Senator Harris is a tenacious and trailblazing leader who will make a great partner on the campaign trail.”

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