HomeNewsNational NewsFrom rival to running mate: What 'fearless fighter' Kamala Harris

From rival to running mate: What ‘fearless fighter’ Kamala Harris


CLOSE

Kamala Harris will make history as the first Black woman and first Asian American person to be on a major party’s presidential ticket. USA TODAY

CONNECTEMAILMORE

As a U.S. senator, Kamala Harris cemented her reputation as a tough questioner, her clashes with Attorney General William Barr and Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh the stuff of Democratic legend.

Now progressives and moderates alike are hoping the senator from California brings that same fire to the Democratic ticket – and an eventual debate with Mike Pence.

In choosing Harris as his running mate, presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden called her “a fearless fighter for the little guy, one of the country’s finest public servants.”

Harris provides Biden several key attributes that could help him win the White House in November: political experience as a national candidate and holder of statewide office in the most populous state; a prosecutorial background to debate her rivals; and an ability to generate enthusiasm as the first Black and Asian woman on a major-party ticket.

“Today is a spark of hope and a watershed moment for Black women and women of color,” said Aimee Allison, founder of She the People, a group that urged Biden to choose a woman of color as his running mate. “This is one step of a much larger fight for representation towards the multiracial democracy women of color have dreamed of, fought for, and bled for, for generations.”

But Harris will also face a full-court press of negative framing from her Republican rivals. It started almost immediately after her name was announced Tuesday as Biden’s Democratic running mate, with President Donald Trump posting a video on Twitter calling Harris a “phony” and highlighting her clash with the former vice president during a Democratic primary debate last year.

Still, Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute, said pundits tend to “vastly overstate” the value of a vice presidential candidate.

“A good running mate choice doesn’t gain you new voters. It prevents you from losing voters who are inclined to support you,” Murray said. “Harris fits that bill.”

Heading to the Nov. 3 election, here’s what the Harris pick means for the Biden campaign:

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) speaks during the hearing for Supreme Court Associate Justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh on Sept. 4, 2018 in Washington.

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) speaks during the hearing for Supreme Court Associate Justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh on Sept. 4, 2018 in Washington. (Photo: Jack Gruber, USA TODAY)

A history of tough questioning could be a benefit on debate stage

Ahead of announcing her presidential bid, Harris drew the spotlight during the 2018 Supreme Court confirmation hearing for Brett Kavanaugh. Kavanaugh was accused of sexual misconduct by California professor Christine Blasey Ford and fiercely denied the allegations. Trump said Tuesday that Harris was “nasty” in her questioning of Kavanaugh, and he said she was disrespectful to Biden during the campaign.

“I thought she was the meanest, the most horrible, the most disrespectful of anybody in the U.S. Senate,” Trump said.

Her sharp retorts have cut both ways. In the June 2019 Democratic debate, Harris challenged Biden over his remarks about working with segregationist senators. She described herself as part of the second class to integrate her school as a child after mandatory school busing, which forced Biden to apologize for his earlier comments.

But Biden didn’t hold a grudge. At a news conference July 28, Biden held a note card full of points to make about Harris such as “talented” and a “great help to campaign.”

Sen. Corey Booker (D-N.J.) and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) confer during the confirmation hearing for Supreme Court Associate Justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh on Sept. 4, 2018 in Washington.

Sen. Corey Booker (D-N.J.) and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) confer during the confirmation hearing for Supreme Court Associate Justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh on Sept. 4, 2018 in Washington. (Photo: Jack Gruber, USAT)

Mom’s advice: ‘Do something’

Harris became the first Black and the first Asian woman to represent California in the Senate when she was elected in 2016. Her father immigrated from Jamaica to study economics, and her mother immigrated from India. Her mother told Harris while she grew up: “Don’t sit around and complain about things, do something,” according to the campaign.

As a student at Howard University, Harris joined protests on the National Mall against apartheid in South Africa. She was the first Black woman to be elected district attorney in San Francisco and as attorney general of California. She eventually managed a $735 million budget as attorney general and oversaw more than 4,800 attorneys and other employees, according to the campaign.

Barack Obama, the first and only Black president, said Tuesday that he has known Harris for a long time and that 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,” Obama said in a tweet. “This is a good day for our country.”

Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., and former Vice President Joe Biden face off in Democratic debate July 31, 2019, in Detroit.

Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., and former Vice President Joe Biden face off in Democratic debate July 31, 2019, in Detroit. (Photo: Paul Sancya, AP)

Harris was only the second Black woman elected to the U.S. Senate, where she has supported a bill to make lynching a federal crime. She worked to end racial and ethnic disparities in responding to COVID-19, and she took on corporations that defrauded the health care system, according to the campaign.

In the Senate, she joined Rep. Veronica Escobar, D-Texas, in demanding the Department of Homeland Security release migrant children during the pandemic.

Wonder Woman herself congratulated Harris on Tuesday. Lynda Carter, the actress who portrayed the superhero on television, praised the decision as an “extraordinary moment” for women and girls and “those of us who are of mixed heritage.”

“This moment is for every American who dares to dream of a brighter future for our great Republic,” Carter wrote on Twitter.

Sen. Kamala Harris speaks during the Women's March on Washington on Jan. 21, 2017.

Sen. Kamala Harris speaks during the Women’s March on Washington on Jan. 21, 2017. (Photo: Jose Luis Magana, AP)

Climate activists cheer choice while seeking ‘environmental justice’

As attorney general, Harris sued corporations such as Chevron and BP for damaging the environment and won, and she sued corporations for their role in exposing Californians to excessive levels of diesel fuel, according to the campaign.

“Sen. Harris campaigned fiercely for climate action in the past, and in the Senate, is a leader for environmental justice,” said Joe Bonfiglio, president of the Environmental Defense Fund Action. “This ticket shows just how committed Joe Biden is to making real and lasting climate progress and stands in stark contrast to Donald Trump and Mike Pence’s efforts to implement a polluter-first agenda.”

The Sunrise Movement, a progressive group focused on climate change that supported Sen. Bernie Sanders’ campaign in 2016, also praised Harris. Varshini Prakash, the group’s co-founder, said Harris has “showed her responsiveness to activist and movement pressure to make climate a top priority and demonstrated her willingness to be held accountable.”

Prakash also noted that as a young Indian-American woman, “I am holding the significance of this moment to see the first mixed-race Black and Indian woman on a presidential ticket.”

Sen. Kamala Harris of California speaks as she accepts the nomination for Vice President of the United States, during the Democratic National Convention at the Wisconsin Center, Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2020.Sen. Kamala Harris of California speaks as she accepts the nomination for Vice President of the United States, during the Democratic National Convention at the Wisconsin Center, Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2020.Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), running mate of Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee former Vice President Joe Biden, attends a coronavirus briefing at a makeshift studio at the Hotel DuPont on Aug. 13, 2020 in Wilmington, Delaware. Harris is the first Black woman and first person of Indian descent to be a presumptive nominee on a presidential ticket by a major party in U.S. history. Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., and her husband Douglas Emhoff, right, applaud to Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden and his wife Jill Biden after a campaign event at Alexis Dupont High School in Wilmington, Del., Wednesday, Aug. 12, 2020. From left, Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden's running mate Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), with husband Douglass Emhoff, greet Dr. Jill Biden after delivering remarks at the Alexis Dupont High School on August 12, 2020 in Wilmington, Delaware. Harris is the first Black woman and the first person of Indian descent to be nominated at the top of the presidential ticket by a major party in U.S. history. Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee former Vice President Joe Biden invites his running mate Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) to the stage to deliver remarks at the Alexis Dupont High School on August 12, 2020 in Wilmington, Delaware. Harris is the first Black woman and the first person of Indian descent to be nominated at the top of the presidential ticket by a major party in U.S. history.Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., speaks after Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden introduced her as his running mate during a campaign event at Alexis Dupont High School in Wilmington, Del., Wednesday, Aug. 12, 2020.Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden retrieves his face mask from the podium as his running mate Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., prepares to speak at a campaign event at Alexis Dupont High School in Wilmington, Del., Wednesday, Aug. 12, 2020. Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden's running mate Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., speaks during a campaign event at Alexis Dupont High School in Wilmington, Del., Wednesday, Aug. 12, 2020. Sen. Kamala Harris, D-CA, speaks during a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs hearing on June 25, 2020 in Washington, DC.San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris speaks to supporters before a No on K press conference October 29, 2008 in San Francisco. San Francisco ballot measure Proposition K seeks to stop enforcing laws against prostitution.California Attorney General Kamala Harris appears before an Assembly committee at the Capitol in Sacramento, Calif., on May 10, 2012. Kamala Harris, Attorney General of California, with Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley, present Rules Committee report, during the Democratic National Convention Sept. 4, 2012 in Charlotte, N.C. Sandy Stier, center left, and Kris Perry, at right, exchange wedding vows in front of California Attorney General Kamala Harris, left, at City Hall in San Francisco, onJune 28, 2013. Stier and Perry, the lead plaintiffs in the U.S. Supreme Court case that overturned California's same-sex marriage ban, tied the knot about an hour after a federal appeals court freed same-sex couples to obtain marriage licenses for the first time in 4 1/2 years.Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Kamala Harris greets supporters at a election night rally Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2016 in Los Angeles. President Barack Obama walks with California Attorney General Kamala Harris, center, and California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, after arriving at San Francisco International Airport in San Francisco, on Feb. 16, 2012.Sen. Kamala Harris walks to the Senate chamber for a series of 6 roll call votes regarding the Fiscal Year 2018 Budget Resolution on Capitol Hill, on October 18, 2017 in Washington.Sen. Kamala Harris speaks during the Women's March on Washington on Jan. 21, 2017.Left to right, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., ranking member, Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, Sen. Kamala D. Harris, D-Calif., speak before a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Sept.27, 2018.Sen. Kamala Harris speaks during the hearing for Supreme Court Associate Justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh on Sept. 4, 2018 in Washington. Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., speaks with her aides during a break from testimony from Attorney General nominee William Barr at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, on Jan. 15, 2019.Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., arrives to a Senate Intelligence Committee nomination hearing for Rep. John Ratcliffe, R-Texas, on Capitol Hill in Washington, May 5, 2020.Senate Democrats, including Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), participate in a moment of silence to honor George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter movement in Emancipation Hall of the U.S. Capitol on June 4, 2020 in Washington, DC.

Replay

  • Sen. Kamala Harris of California speaks as she accepts the nomination for Vice President of the United States, during the Democratic National Convention at the Wisconsin Center, Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2020.1 of 23
  • Sen. Kamala Harris of California speaks as she accepts the nomination for Vice President of the United States, during the Democratic National Convention at the Wisconsin Center, Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2020.2 of 23
  • Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), running mate of Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee former Vice President Joe Biden, attends a coronavirus briefing at a makeshift studio at the Hotel DuPont on Aug. 13, 2020 in Wilmington, Delaware. Harris is the first Black woman and first person of Indian descent to be a presumptive nominee on a presidential ticket by a major party in U.S. history. 3 of 23
  • Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., and her husband Douglas Emhoff, right, applaud to Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden and his wife Jill Biden after a campaign event at Alexis Dupont High School in Wilmington, Del., Wednesday, Aug. 12, 2020. 4 of 23
  • From left, Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden's running mate Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), with husband Douglass Emhoff, greet Dr. Jill Biden after delivering remarks at the Alexis Dupont High School on August 12, 2020 in Wilmington, Delaware. Harris is the first Black woman and the first person of Indian descent to be nominated at the top of the presidential ticket by a major party in U.S. history. 5 of 23
  • Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee former Vice President Joe Biden invites his running mate Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) to the stage to deliver remarks at the Alexis Dupont High School on August 12, 2020 in Wilmington, Delaware. Harris is the first Black woman and the first person of Indian descent to be nominated at the top of the presidential ticket by a major party in U.S. history.6 of 23
  • Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., speaks after Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden introduced her as his running mate during a campaign event at Alexis Dupont High School in Wilmington, Del., Wednesday, Aug. 12, 2020.7 of 23
  • Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden retrieves his face mask from the podium as his running mate Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., prepares to speak at a campaign event at Alexis Dupont High School in Wilmington, Del., Wednesday, Aug. 12, 2020. 8 of 23
  • Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden's running mate Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., speaks during a campaign event at Alexis Dupont High School in Wilmington, Del., Wednesday, Aug. 12, 2020. 9 of 23
  • Sen. Kamala Harris, D-CA, speaks during a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs hearing on June 25, 2020 in Washington, DC.10 of 23
  • San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris speaks to supporters before a No on K press conference October 29, 2008 in San Francisco. San Francisco ballot measure Proposition K seeks to stop enforcing laws against prostitution.11 of 23
  • California Attorney General Kamala Harris appears before an Assembly committee at the Capitol in Sacramento, Calif., on May 10, 2012. 12 of 23
  • Kamala Harris, Attorney General of California, with Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley, present Rules Committee report, during the Democratic National Convention Sept. 4, 2012 in Charlotte, N.C. 13 of 23
  • Sandy Stier, center left, and Kris Perry, at right, exchange wedding vows in front of California Attorney General Kamala Harris, left, at City Hall in San Francisco, onJune 28, 2013. Stier and Perry, the lead plaintiffs in the U.S. Supreme Court case that overturned California's same-sex marriage ban, tied the knot about an hour after a federal appeals court freed same-sex couples to obtain marriage licenses for the first time in 4 1/2 years.14 of 23
  • Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Kamala Harris greets supporters at a election night rally Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2016 in Los Angeles. 15 of 23
  • President Barack Obama walks with California Attorney General Kamala Harris, center, and California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, after arriving at San Francisco International Airport in San Francisco, on Feb. 16, 2012.16 of 23
  • Sen. Kamala Harris walks to the Senate chamber for a series of 6 roll call votes regarding the Fiscal Year 2018 Budget Resolution on Capitol Hill, on October 18, 2017 in Washington.17 of 23
  • Sen. Kamala Harris speaks during the Women's March on Washington on Jan. 21, 2017.18 of 23
  • Left to right, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., ranking member, Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, Sen. Kamala D. Harris, D-Calif., speak before a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Sept.27, 2018.19 of 23
  • Sen. Kamala Harris speaks during the hearing for Supreme Court Associate Justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh on Sept. 4, 2018 in Washington. 20 of 23
  • Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., speaks with her aides during a break from testimony from Attorney General nominee William Barr at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, on Jan. 15, 2019.21 of 23
  • Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., arrives to a Senate Intelligence Committee nomination hearing for Rep. John Ratcliffe, R-Texas, on Capitol Hill in Washington, May 5, 2020.22 of 23
  • Senate Democrats, including Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), participate in a moment of silence to honor George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter movement in Emancipation Hall of the U.S. Capitol on June 4, 2020 in Washington, DC.23 of 23

Autoplay

Show Thumbnails

Show Captions

Sanders says Harris knows how to ‘stand up for working people’

Harris as attorney general won a $20 billion settlement from big banks that were unfairly foreclosing on homeowners, according to the campaign. And as district attorney in San Francisco, she prosecuted companies that cheated workers out of earnings or jeopardized safety on the job, according to the campaign. Harris also supports a $15 minimum wage.

Sanders, a one-time presidential rival who has built his career on advocating for progressive policies, congratulated Harris on Tuesday for making history.

“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,” Sanders said in a tweet.

Pence welcomed Harris to the campaign from an event in Mesa, Arizona, with a nod to the progressive voices that are now lining up to support Biden and Harris.

“As you all know, Joe Biden and the Democratic Party have been overtaken by the radical left,” Pence said. “So given their promises of higher taxes, open borders, socialized medicine and abortion on demand, it’s no surprise that he chose Sen. Harris.”

Bernie Sanders and Kamala Harris after the second Democratic primary debate on June 27, 2019 in Miami.

Bernie Sanders and Kamala Harris after the second Democratic primary debate on June 27, 2019 in Miami. (Photo: SAUL LOEB, AFP/Getty Images)

Warren calls Senate colleague a ‘powerful force’ for justice

As district attorney, Harris championed a program to direct young people arrested for drug crimes into training and counseling programs instead of jail, according to the campaign.

While she was attorney general, the state Justice Department became the first statewide agency to mandate a body camera program. The department launched training against implicit bias and created a public database about deaths in police custody and arrest rates, according to the campaign. 

Harris co-sponsored legislation with Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., to allow students with existing debt to refinance at the interest rates available to new borrowers.

Warren tweeted that Harris would be a “great partner” in “making our government a powerful force for good in the fight for social, racial, and economic justice.”

Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris take part in a Democratic primary debate in Houston on Sept. 12, 2019.

Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris take part in a Democratic primary debate in Houston on Sept. 12, 2019. (Photo: Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images)

Contributing: Rebecca Morin

CONNECTEMAILMORE

Read or Share this story: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/elections/2020/08/11/what-does-kamala-harris-bring-democratic-ticket-joe-biden/3348838001/

Source

spot_img

Most Popular