Joe Biden has named California senator Kamala Harris as his vice-presidential running mate, a historic choice he believes will bolster his chances of beating Donald Trump in an election year shaped by the global coronavirus pandemic and a national reckoning on race.
Harris – Biden’s former Democratic presidential rival and a barrier-breaking former prosecutor – is the daughter of immigrants from Jamaica and India and is the first Black woman and the first Asian American to be nominated for a major party’s presidential ticket.
I have the great honor to announce that I’ve picked @KamalaHarris – a fearless fighter for the little guy, and one of the country’s finest public servants – as my running mate,” Biden wrote on Twitter.
In a tweet, Harris said she was “honored” to join Biden on the Democratic ticket and pledged to “do what it takes to make him our Commander-in-Chief”.
Biden announced the selection in a text and email message to supporters. His campaign said the two would hold their first event together on Wednesday, in Biden’s hometown of Wilmington, Delaware.
Though Biden and Harris clashed during the Democratic presidential debates before she dropped out of the race last year, she has become a strong supporter and a voice of authority on issues of racial justice in an election year convulsed by nationwide protests in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd.
The decision is of great consequence, not only for Democrats’ immediate political prospects but for the future of the party.
Biden, who, at 77, would be the oldest person ever elected, has pitched himself as a “transitional candidate” and a “bridge” to a new generation of leaders, fueling speculation that should he be elected, he would be a one-term-president.
In selecting Harris, a 55-year-old Democratic star, he may not only be naming a partner but a potential successor who could become the nation’s first female president.
Harris is among the most prominent Black women in American politics, with appeal across the party’s ideological spectrum. She served six years as the attorney general of California before arriving in the Senate in 2016.
During the primary, Harris struggled to reconcile her prosecutorial record with her support for criminal justice reform, facing criticism from progressives who doubted her evolution on the issue. But on Tuesday, the announcement was celebrated by Democrats from diverse political backgrounds.
Joe Biden nailed this decision,” said Barack Obama, who went through a similar process in 2008 when he selected Biden as his running mate, in a statement. “By choosing Senator Kamala Harris as America’s next vice president, he’s underscored his own judgment and character. Reality shows us that these attributes are not optional in a president. They’re requirements of the job.”
She understands what it takes to stand up for working people, fight for health care for all, and take down the most corrupt administration in history,” Senator Bernie Sanders tweeted.
Black women were critical to Biden’s success in the Democratic primary, lifting him to victory in South Carolina after series of stinging losses. But the political landscape changed after Floyd was killed in Minneapolis in May, touching off months of mass anti-racism protests that intensified pressure on Biden to to select a Black running mate.
Together we will beat Donald Trump – Joe Biden