After months of speculation, the former vice president announced Tuesday that California’s junior senator was his pick for the Democrats’ vice presidential nomination.
Back when Kamala was Attorney General, she worked closely with Beau. 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.
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) August 11, 2020
A former top-tier presidential contender herself for a spell last year, Harris will have her name formally put forth at the party’s mainly virtual national convention running from August 17-20.
Whether she and the currently poll-topping Biden win the White House in November, Harris already has made national election history as the first African-American woman to be on the ticket for a major American political party, as well as the first Indian American. She is the daughter of Indian and Jamaican parents.
It is another in a series of firsts that has seen the Oakland-born Harris win office as San Francisco’s D.A, and the Golden State’s attorney general. With all the sharp elbows and quick tongue that a veep candidate is supposed to bring to the ticket and the race, Harris is only the second African-American woman to serve in the Senate and the third female senator from California. She also is the first Californian on a Democratic party ticket, and her longtime connections to the entertainment business should help boost fundraising. Her husband, Douglas Emhoff, is an entertainment attorney.
Well supported in Hollywood over the years by the likes of CAA’s Bryan Lourd, NBCUniversal’s Jeff Shell, JJ Abrams and Katie McGrath and Shonda Rhimes, Sen. Harris long has been seen as the front-runner for the VP spot since Biden promised in a March 15 debate that his running mate would be a woman.
There was some friction during the search, when former senator, top Biden adviser and former MPAA chief Chris Dodd reportedly questioned whether Harris would be loyal enough to the ex-VP the way Biden was to President Barack Obama.
Harris famously took a hard swing at Biden and his perceived shortcomings during their first primary debate in July 2019, when she talked about being “a little girl in California who was bused to school.”
The senator beat out former National Security Adviser Susan Rice, Congresswoman Karen Bass of Los Angeles, Illinois Sen. Tammy Duckworth and others for the gig.
The fact is that now, after weeks of opening vying for the veep spot, 55-year old Harris is positioned to be either the 2024 or 2028 front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination, depending on whether 77-year-old Biden stays for one term or two if successful in November.
Granted, Biden never explicitly professed he would pick a Black woman when he pledged to run with a woman, which is why the likes of Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Michigan’s Gov. Gretchen Whitmer were near the top of the list at one junction. A reality that clearly can’t be unknown to Biden and his inner circle is that the choice of Harris potentially galvanizes the resurrection of the Obama coalition that was so successful in 2008 and 2012.
Directly appealing to the Democrats’ activist base of African-American women going into a highly contested election against the former Celebrity Apprentice host and his well-financed campaign, the seasoned Harris could prove an actual vote-getter, unlike most VP picks. Although criticized by some of the party’s progressives as being too punishment-friendly, Harris brings some hefty law-and-order qualifications that could appeal to Republicans from her time in the DA’s office and serving as California’s top law enforcement official from 2011-17.
Although she has proved to be a strong surrogate for Biden during the unique campaign of coronavirus pandemic, Harris’ strident attacks on the former VP early on in the primaries seem at odds with his desire for an electoral partner who is “simpatico with me, both in terms of personality as well as substance,” as he put it. A look at the partisan train wreck of the political landscape reveals what a safe and strong VP choice Harris is for the very deliberate Biden. At the same time, the Irish poetry-quoting Biden also knows how close Harris was to his late son, Beau. He was the attorney general of Delaware when Harris was California AG; the younger Biden died of brain cancer in 2015.
In a letter to supporters, Biden wrote:
“I first met Kamala through my son Beau. They were both Attorneys General at the same time. He had enormous respect for her and her work. I thought a lot about that as I made this decision. There is no one’s opinion I valued more than Beau’s and I’m proud to have Kamala standing with me on this campaign.
“Her record of accomplishment — fighting tooth and nail for what’s right — is why I’m choosing her. There is no door Kamala won’t knock on, no stone she’ll leave unturned, if it means making life better — for the people.”
Biden and Harris plan to appear together on Wednesday in Wilmington, DE, and she will appear and a grassroots fundraiser that was planned before she was announced as his pick.
Already having endured the heat and scrutiny of a presidential campaign in her own short-lived campaign at the nomination, Harris also comes with the added benefit of not losing the Democrats a shot at control of the Senate from the GOP if she becomes VP.
Under California law, Gov. Gavin Newsom would appoint the replacement to serve the remaining two years of Harris’ first term in the chamber. The Democrat certainly also would place a Democrat in the position. The Golden State’s Secretary of State Alex Padilla, current AG Xavier Becerra and five-term Congresswoman Bass are said to be in the top five choices for Harris’ job if she gets promoted to the Executive branch.
With the GOP’s also primarily virtual convention starting August 24, the election is still penciled in on the calendar for Nov. 3.
Reporters were staked out in Wilmington, Biden’s home, for any signal that a choice was imminent, and some tracked flight movements from nearby airports. By Tuesday afternoon, it became clear that an announcement would be coming in a matter of hours.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti was a guest today on Fox News’ The Daily Briefing with Dana Perino, and she asked him whether she could “walk my dog in the next two hours without worrying that I’m going to miss the vice presidential announcement.”
He replied: “I can’t say anything but I wouldn’t walk to that dog unless it was just outside. I think you might need to relieve him close to home.”
Despite a race among media outlets to get the scoop, the Biden campaign kept it to themselves and revealed the choice via a text sent around 4:15 PM ET.
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