Biden names Harris as running mate
13 August 2020 | International
Joe Biden has picked Indian-origin senator Kamala Harris as his running mate, recognising the crucial role black voters and Indian-Americans could play in his bid to defeat Donald Trump in the US presidential election in November.
By naming the 55-year-old lawyer and moderate Democratic politician from California as his vice-presidential candidate, Biden made history by selecting the first black woman to compete on a major party's presidential ticket.
Harris, whose father is from Jamaica and mother an Indian, is currently the senator from California and has been described as a trailblazer by Barack Obama, the first black American president.
Biden (77) made the announcement in a text message to his supporters on Tuesday, ending days of suspense. It came about a week ahead of his virtual Democratic National Convention that will formally nominate Biden as the party's candidate for the 3 November presidential election, challenging incumbent president Trump, a Republican.
“Joe Biden here. I've chosen Kamala Harris as my running mate.
“Together, with you, we're going to beat Trump. Add your name to welcome her to the team,” Biden said in his message.
Biden said Harris will be the best partner for him to finally get the country back on track.
He described her as “a fearless fighter” and “one of the country's finest public servants”.
Harris later tweeted that 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 honoured to join him as our party's nominee for vice-president, and do what it takes to make him our commander-in-chief.”
Biden pledged in March to name a woman as his running mate. He had faced mounting pressure to pick a black woman as the country was hit by massive social unrest over police brutality against African-Americans, a key voting bloc for the Democrats.
Leading Indian-American groups across the US have lauded the selection of Harris, saying it was a moment of pride and celebration for the entire community in America.
An estimated 1.3 million Indian-Americans are expected to vote in the election, including nearly 200 000 in Pennsylvania and 125 000 in Michigan, both must-win battleground states.
In 2016, some 77% of Indian-Americans voted for the Democratic Party's presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton, according to figures released by CRW Strategy, a research firm.
Reacting to the nomination of Harris, Trump said he was “a little surprised that he picked her”.
“She was very disrespectful to Joe Biden and it's hard to pick somebody that's that disrespectful,” he said. Vice-President Mike Pence, the running mate of Trump, during a speech in Arizona acknowledged Harris.
“I don't know if you all heard the news, but on the way here I heard Joe Biden just named his running mate - California senator Kamala Harris,” Pence said. “So, let me take this opportunity to welcome her to the race.”
The Trump campaign said the choice of running mate was proof that Biden is “an empty shell being filled with the extreme agenda of the radicals on the left”.
If elected, she would be the first ever woman to be the vice-president of the US and the first ever Indian-American and African-American vice-president.
Only two other women have been nominated as vice-presidential candidates - Sarah Palin by the Republicans in 2008 and Geraldine Ferraro by the Democrats in 1984. Neither made it to the White House.
A first term Democratic senator from California, Harris launched her presidential campaign in January 2019.
After the initial few months, her campaign could not take off and by the end of the year, she withdrew from the race.
Early this year, she endorsed Biden for the presidency. But during the primaries and pre-primary season, she did not have a good relationship with him.
However, Biden started appreciating her skills when Harris raised millions of dollars for his campaign.
Harris is known for many firsts. She has been a county district attorney; the district attorney for San Francisco - the first woman and first African-American and Indian-origin to be elected to the position.