The coronavirus pandemic has ensured that the traditional campaign lap as a completed ticket won't happen as usual in 2020. But the Biden camp still plans to harness the momentum of the pick, largely received with gusto among Democrats spanning the ideological gamut after an arduous selection process: Biden and Harris will appear in person together today for the first time as a ticket near the presumptive nominee's home in Wilmington, Del. Supporters were also invited to join them for an online “grass roots fundraiser” scheduled for tonight.
Harris will be formally nominated at the national convention next week. And the country will see her in another debate right around the corner: Harris is slated to face off against Vice President Pence on Oct. 7 in Utah.
Harris, the daughter of Indian and Jamaican immigrants, is perhaps one of the most consequential vice-presidential picks in American history and not just because the country is grappling with a moment of racial reckoning. The 78-year-old Biden — who would be the oldest president to ever take office — has referred to himself as a “transition candidate.” “The decision carries major implications not only for the November election but for the future of the Democratic Party,” our colleagues Matt Viser and Sean Sullivan report of Biden's pick. “The choice places Harris, who was a more vibrant and energetic presence on the campaign trail but was also at times unsteady, at the forefront of the party’s future as, potentially, the first female vice president.”
- “[Biden] has spoken openly about his age, saying it was also important that his pick have the ability to serve as president from 'Day 1.' That requirement enhanced the desire for candidates who had a deep well of experience and could more easily been seen by voters as president,” Matt and Sean report.
- “By choosing her as his political partner, Mr. Biden, if he wins, may well be anointing her as the de facto leader of the party in four or eight years,” the New York Times's Alexander Burns and Katie Glueck write.
How it all went down: The 55-year-old former presidential candidate and former California attorney general has made her mark on the party as a pragmatic moderate with a prosecutorial approach to politics. Notably, her breakout moment in the primary came from a dominating performance during the second Democratic debate, when she attacked Biden for his past praise of segregationist senators and controversial history on busing for school integration.
The announcement signals the campaign believes Harris's take-no-prisoners style will serve Biden well against President Trump and Pence: “Voters think she is experienced because she is a senator and know she is tough,” a senior Biden campaign adviser told Power Up. “That means a lot … voters feel she has the experience it takes and that is important.”
Sources close to the former vice president said “one of his biggest considerations in picking a running mate was finding someone with experience in the national spotlight,” The San Francisco Chronicle's Tal Kopan reports. “Biden’s camp did not want a candidate who would stumble under scrutiny, with some pointing to former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s performance as the GOP vice-presidential nominee in 2008 as a cautionary tale,” per Kopan.
- “From the start, some Biden advisers saw Harris as a logical choice. She was among the party’s most popular figures, a deft debater and a fundraising juggernaut. She had been thoroughly vetted during her own campaign and Biden’s team expected there would be few surprises if she was the pick,” the Associated Press's Julie Pace, David Eggert and Kathleen Ronayne report.
- “Indeed, Harris’ potential downsides were well-known to Biden advisers. Her record as a prosecutor in California was already viewed skeptically by some younger Democrats during the primary and would face even more scrutiny against the backdrop of a national debate over inequality in the criminal justice system.”
The selection process was a rather “arduous voyage” for those being considered, according to our colleague Michael Scherer. “Interviews followed by interviews in some cases, a public scrutiny that surfaced old foes or embarrassing quotes in the media, and for the 11 finalists, a deep examination by an individualized panel of 12 to 15 lawyers that culminated in time with Biden himself.”
- More than 20 initial candidates went through an initial screen: “Ultimately 11 women made it to the final phase of the process, far more than publicly reported, with Biden conducting one-on-one interviews with each over the last nine days, sometimes in person and some virtually. Celinda Lake, one of the Biden campaign’s pollsters, did research on the best way to introduce each of the candidates personal stories, and the campaign prepared rollout strategies, including potential new campaign logos, for all of the finalists.”
- How campaigning has changed: “All the women with a shot at becoming Joe Biden’s running mate first had to face the same, sometimes jarring questions in an initial interview: What would your agenda be? What do you think Donald Trump’s nickname for you would be?”
- Harris's path: “The co-chairs described her as having an impressive balance of the presence to take on Trump and knowledge of the issues. She also spoke in the meeting about her close relationship with Biden’s late son Beau and her personal story of having immigrant parents … She also continued to work with interest groups outside of the process, courting Black activists during racial justice protests over the summer.”
- On the issues: The New York Times's Matt Stevens, Thomas Kaplan and Stephanie Saul have an explainer of Harris's positions on race, policing, health care and education.
Biden broke the big news by laptop in his home in Wilmington: “I’m calling you today because I’ve made that first Presidential decision,” the typed up notes on a card read. “I’ve decided I’d like you to join this effort to win back the soul of this country and be our nation’s next Vice President.”
Biden announced his selection publicly via text message and tweet: “Back when Kamala was Attorney General, she worked closely with Beau,” Biden tweeted, referring to his late son, then the attorney general of Delaware. “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.”
It sparked a big reaction and emotional moment for Black women: “Kamala D. Harris’s leap onto the Democratic ticket Tuesday sparked a surge of emotion across the nation as Americans for the first time witnessed a woman of color ascend to the country’s highest political levels,” our colleagues Annie Linskey and Vanessa Williams report. “Tuesday’s announcement suggests Democrats are beginning to understand that Black voters in general, and African American women in particular, cannot be taken for granted, said Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), a high-profile member of the Congressional Black Caucus.”
- How times have changed: “Biden’s choice was described as ‘safe’ by some analysts, a striking description given the historical prejudices facing Black women. That highlighted the swift changes in the political landscape, as the choice of a Black woman — almost unthinkable not long ago — seemed Biden’s path of least resistance.”
Big names came out in support: “I’ve known Senator @KamalaHarris for a long time,” former president Barack Obama tweeted. “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.”
- So did other Veep finalists: Former national security adviser Susan E. Rice tweeted that “Senator Harris is a tenacious and trailblazing leader who will make a great partner on the campaign trail. I am confident that Biden-Harris will prove to be a winning ticket.”
- “To see a Black woman nominated for the first time reaffirms my faith that in America, there is a place for every person to succeed no matter who they are or where they come from,” Rep. Val Demings (D-Fla.) said.
- For her part, Harris said Biden “can unify the American people because he’s spent his life fighting for us. And as president, he'll build an America that lives up to our ideals. 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.”
FIRSTS: Harris is only the fourth woman in U.S. history to be on a major presidential ticket. Sarah Palin, the 2008 GOP vice-presidential nominee, congratulated Harris and welcomed her expanding the very small club of women who have been chosen as running mates.
- “Congrats to the democrat VP pick,” Palin wrote in an Instagram post. “Climb upon Geraldine Ferraro's and my shoulders, and from the most amazing view in your life consider lessons we learned.”
- Other firsts: Harris was also selected from what was likely the most diverse assortment of vice-presidential nominee contenders in history. She will also be the first woman of color to be nominated by either party.
- “Shirley is smiling today,” Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) said of Shirley Chisholm, the first Black woman elected to Congress in 1968 and a founding member of the Congressional Black Caucus. “Kamala Harris is certainly a catalyst for change, and I see the trajectory and the new lap of this race for justice. I see this as a major goal that Shirley Chisholm had. I think that this is a big deal.”
- In 1972, Chisholm “took a leap into history as she declared her bid for the Democratic nomination for presidency of the United States of America,” our colleague DeNeen Brown reports.
“But the 2020 Democratic ticket is also historic in another way,” Business Insider's John Haltiwanger reports. “For the first time since 1984, both of the candidates on the ticket did not go to an Ivy League university.”
- “Biden went to the University of Delaware for undergrad, before going to law school at Syracuse University. Harris went to Howard University in Washington, DC, for undergrad before earning a law degree from the University of California, Hastings. As an alumna of Howard, Harris will also be the first graduate of historically black colleges and universities to be on a major party ticket.”
At the White House
TRUMP, ALLIES UNLOAD ON HARRIS: Trump – and his daughter Ivanka – donated a combined $8,000 to Harris’s 2014 campaign for attorney general. But it took less than an hour after the announcement for the president, who two weeks ago said Harris would be a “fine choice," to attack her from the White House briefing room. He called the senator “nasty” from the podium while expressing “surprise” in Biden's pick.
- “She was extraordinarily nasty to Kavanaugh, Judge Kavanaugh, now Justice Kavanaugh,” Trump told reporters of her high profile grilling of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh during his confirmation hearings. "She was nasty to a level that was just a horrible thing the way she was, the way she treated now-Justice Kavanaugh. And I won't forget that soon."
- Trump and his campaign also fixated on Harris's now-famous attack on Biden in the primary debates: “It’s hard to pick somebody that’s that disrespectful. When she said things during the debates — during the Democrat primary debates — that were horrible about Sleepy Joe,” Trump told reporters. Biden has repeated that he holds no grudges over the exchange. (Philip Bump also fact checked the Trump's campaign false claim that Harris called Biden a racist.)
- Trump also “tweeted a 30-second ad created by his campaign that criticized Harris for some of her more liberal positions, including a willingness to embrace Medicare-for-all. (She later came under pressure from liberal Democrats for adopting a more moderate definition of the health-care plan)," per Matt and Sean.
The juxtaposition of the two major candidates was not lost on many:
Pence offered a simple declaration: “I’ll see you in Salt Lake City,” Pence said during a campaign event in Arizona. He also offered that the pick was “no surprise,” a contrast with Trump's reaction. (The first debate of the season will be between Trump and Biden on Sept. 29 in Cleveland.)
In the past, Trump has launched particularly fierce attacks on women – especially women of color. And Biden's campaign warned of sexist attacks against the eventual vice presidential pick on an all-staff call last week. “Time’s Up, the Hollywood-backed movement that responded to the Harvey Weinstein scandal and #MeToo, also launched a campaign defending Harris against sexist and racist political attacks,” the LA Times's Nardine Saad reports. “Actress Debra Messing and comedian Amy Schumer were among the famous faces to front the campaign.”
A fire hose of attack lines: The Trump campaign and top Republican lawmakers appeared to lack a clear message about Harris.
- A sign of the struggles: The Trump campaign called Harris a “phony" while the president painted her as “about the most liberal person in the Senate," a struggle Forbes's Andrew Solender explores in more detail. Rep. Liz Cheney, the No. 3 House Republican and highest ranking woman in the party, was more in line with Trump's message when she declared that Harris was a “radical liberal.”
- And that wasn't all: “When asked how the fight for suburban women could potentially play out, Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) said voters understand they’ll be safer with Trump,” BuzzFeed News's Kadia Goba and Henry J. Gomez report of a press call Trump's campaign held. “Blackburn then deferred to senior campaign adviser Katrina Pierson’s earlier comments, conversely saying Harris was being overly tough on crime. Pierson later clarified to say Harris ‘was going after the wrong people.’”
A KAMALA AFTER THE STORM: Fellow politicians, athletes and celebrities weighed in on the historic pick.
The announcement was emotional for many women of color:
From former Obama senior adviser Valerie Jarrett:
A different MVP offered his approval:
Taylor Swift is Ready for It:
And Saturday Night Live reminded us we could be seeing a lot more of former cast member Maya Rudolph:
The New York Daily News had this pun:
Just a reminder, it's pronounced comma-la:
WHITE HOUSE CORRECTS TRUMP ON JOBLESS AID: “Trump’s senior aides acknowledged on Tuesday that they are providing less financial assistance for the unemployed than the president initially advertised amid mounting blowback from state officials of both parties,” Jeff Stein, Tony Romm and Erica Werner report. “On Saturday, Trump approved an executive action that he claimed would provide an additional $400 per week in expanded unemployment benefits for Americans who have lost their jobs during the pandemic.By Tuesday, senior White House officials were saying publicly that the maneuver only guarantees an extra $300 per week for unemployed Americans — with states not required to add anything to their existing state benefit programs to qualify for the federal benefit.”
In the media
WHAT ELSE YOU NEED TO KNOW:
Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) became the latest “squad” member to defeat a primary challenger: “The Minnesota Democrat was leading Anton Melton-Meaux 57 percent to 39 percent with 96 percent of precincts reported when the race was called, putting to bed weeks of speculation that her career on Capitol Hill could be cut short by an opponent who argued Omar was more interested in fame than representing her district,” Rachael Bade reports.
- Their races haven't been close: “So far, the three members of the Squad who have faced 2020 primary challenges have prevailed by a combined 201,235 votes to 105,993 votes,” the Cook Political Report's Dave Wasserman wrote on Twitter.
From Fox-9 Minneapolis's Theo Keith:
A QAnon supporter looks to be headed to Congress: “Marjorie Taylor Greene, who has endorsed the baseless theory and made a slew of other racist remarks on video, won a Republican primary runoff in Georgia’s 14th Congressional District, according to the Associated Press,” Isaac Stanley-Becker and Rachael Bade report. The district has been heavily Republican historically, which makes it almost certain that she'll win in November.
- Greene celebrated her victory by hurling expletives at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi: “Greene, in a victory speech Tuesday night, lambasted the ‘Republican establishment,’ in addition to Democrats and the news media, according to a reporter for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution who said he was quickly escorted from her campaign’s celebration. The nominee singled out House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), calling her ‘anti-American’ and adding, ‘We’re going to kick that b---- out of Congress,’ according to the reporter.”
The Big Ten and Pac-12 nixed their fall football seasons: The pair's "decisions were the latest steps toward the full cancellation of an American sporting staple that has unfolded every autumn for 150 years,” Adam Kilgore writes.
- Trump called into a sports radio show to lament what might happen before the announcements came down: The president “seemed to reveal that his push to restart the college games is not based foremost on scientific evidence about the dangers of spreading the illness — but rather on his political incentives,” David Nakamura reports.