Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has picked California Senator Kamala Harris as his vice presidential running mate —making her the first Black woman to be named to a major party’s ticket for a presidential election.
As a woman of Indian descent, she is also making history as the first major South Asian-American candidate to run in the general election.
“I have the great honor to announce that I’ve picked Kamala Harris — a fearless fighter for the little guy, and one of the country’s finest public servants — as my running mate,” Biden tweeted Tuesday afternoon. “Together, with you, we’re going to beat Trump.”
After winning enough primaries to secure the nomination earlier this year, Biden, 77, committed himself to picking a female vice presidential candidate. There was much speculation he would choose a Black woman to run with him. A number of familiar and respected names surfaced in the press as potential running mates.
But Biden and Harris have a long friendship going back to the days when she was California attorney general at the same time Biden’s late son, Beau Biden, was attorney general in Delaware.
“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,” Joe Biden tweeted Tuesday. “I was proud then, and I’m proud now to have her as my partner in this campaign.”
Harris had high praise for Biden during a campaign event several weeks ago before she was named as his running mate.
“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.
Harris, 55, was born in Oakland, California, to a Jamaican American father and an Indian American mother.
She graduated from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law and was elected district attorney for San Francisco in 2003 and California attorney general in 2010.
Harris arrived in Washington less than four years ago as the U.S Democratic senator from California.
In her 2020 presidential campaign, Harris was briefly the Democratic front-runner after success in the early debates. Her criticism of Biden’s one-time opposition to court-ordered busing to achieve racial balance in public schools strained their relationship.
But Harris’ overall centrist political stance in the early debates, including her support for law enforcement as an attorney general, failed to excite progressives and liberals, and she dropped out of the presidential race before the first primaries.
Some Democrats accused her of being out of touch over issues of police violence — questions that are bound to be raised again amid nationwide protests against police brutality against Black people and other people of color.
Social media sites are already full of excitement from many Democrats over the Biden-Harris ticket, including a tweet from former President Barack Obama.
“I’ve known Senator Kamala Harris for a long time. She is more than prepared for the job. She’s spent her career defending our Constitution and fighting for folks who need a fair shake. This is a good day for our country. Now let’s go win this thing,” Obama tweeted Tuesday.
Democratic Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi, who was born in New Delhi, tweeted: “Regardless of your political leanings, it says so much about the progress our country has made that a major party ticket now includes a Black and South Asian American woman.”
But senior Trump campaign adviser Katrina Pierson calls Harris “Phony Kamala” and says she “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. … She is proof that Joe Biden is an empty shell being filled with the extreme agenda of the radicals on the left.”
Harris is the third woman to run for vice president on a major party ticket.
Democratic representative Geraldine Ferraro was Walter Mondale’s running mate in 1984 when they lost by a landslide to the Republican ticket of Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.
Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin ran with Republican John McCain in 2008 but lost to Democrats Obama and Biden.