Former Vice President Joe Biden named Sen. Kamala Harris to be his running mate this fall.
The moderate former prosecutor from California has spent her career breaking barriers.
Here’s what we know:
- She is the first Black and South Asian American woman chosen for national office by a major political party.
- Harris, 55, follows Democrat Geraldine Ferraro, in 1984, and Republican Sarah Palin, in 2008, as only the third woman to be chosen as the running mate on a presidential ticket.
- In California, she was the first woman, and first Black woman, to serve as the state’s top law enforcement official. She is the first Black woman from California to serve in the US Senate, and second from any state, after Illinois’ Carol Moseley Braun. Harris is also the first person of Indian descent to appear on a presidential ticket.
- If Biden defeats President Trump in November, Harris would become the first woman in US history to serve as vice president.
Atlanta mayor: “We need this ticket in America”
Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottom said the Joe Biden and Kamala Harris ticket is needed to “show to America that our president will value diversity and there’s no better representative in that than Senator Harris.”
“We need this ticket in America,” Bottoms told CNN’s Jim Acosta during “The Situation Room.”
Bottoms said she talked to Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, on the phone today and he told her that she was not his choice. She called her conversation with Biden in-depth and at some points personal.
Biden did not tell Bottoms who his choice was going to be during the conversation, she said.
The Atlanta mayor went on to describe why this moment is important for younger generations.
“I immediately thought of my nine-year-old daughter and what this would mean to her. To look at television and to see someone who reflects all that we encourage our girls to be and that’s someone who is courageous, someone who works hard, someone who is obviously intelligent and well-studied and someone who cares and is willing to put themselves out to serve others and so it makes me proud but I think more than that, it should make our country proud that there will be representation at the highest office that represents who we are as a diverse people and what we value as a country,” she said.
Biden called Harris to offer her the job 90 minutes before announcement
An official with Joe Biden tells CNN that the former vice president called California Sen. Kamala Harris to offer her the job of vice president 90 minutes before his announcement.
Harris tweeted later that she was “honored” to join Biden as the Democratic party’s nominee for vice president, saying she’d “do what it takes to make him our Commander-in-Chief.”
What California lawmakers are saying about Harris’ appointment
California lawmakers were quick to take to Twitter on Tuesday to praise Joe Biden’s selection of Sen. Kamala Harris as his running mate on the 2020 presidential ticket.
Harris, who was born in Oakland, California, in 1964, was the state’s attorney general from 2011 to 2017 and a former district attorney of San Francisco.
Here’s how California lawmakers are reacting today:
California Gov. Gavin Newsom tweeted his support for Harris, saying she is the “perfect choice” for Biden.
In San Francisco, where Harris was once district attorney, Mayor London Breed expressed her excitement over calling Harris “her Vice-President.”
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said Harris will help Biden “unite the American people, restore our nation’s soul, and rebuild our country.”
On the other end of the political aisle, Republican Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California’s 23rd Congressional District attacked Harris in a tweet.
Kamala Harris wants to turn the entire United States into San Fransisco.
Her radical agenda has been terrible for Californians, and it would be terrible for the rest of America too.
— Kevin McCarthy (@GOPLeader) August 11, 2020
Here’s what Trump said when asked if Harris will help or hurt Biden
President Trump praised Vice President Mike Pence when he was asked if Kamala Harris will help or hurt Joe Biden’s chances at the presidency.
“Well I like Vice President Mike Pence much better (than Harris),” Trump said. “He is solid as a rock. He’s been a fantastic vice president. He’s done everything you can do. He’s respected by every religious group, whether it’s Evangelical, whether it’s any other group, they respect Mike Pence. He’s been a great vice president and I will take him over Kamala.”
Trump’s unprompted comments about Pence come a few days after the New York Times reported that Pence’s team had become concerned that South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem was going after Pence’s job.
Kamala Harris’ Indian roots and why they matter
Besides being the first Black woman on the ticket, Kamala Harris is also the first Indian American. Her mother Shyamala Gopalan was born in Chennai and immigrated to the US to attend a doctoral program at UC Berkeley. Like Barack Obama, a mixed-race heritage has allowed Harris to connect across identities and reach multiple audiences and voting blocs.
To understand what today’s announcement means to this community, I turned to the best source I know on Indian Americans and politics: Aziz Haniffa. Haniffa was executive editor and chief political and diplomatic correspondent of India Abroad that shuttered just a few months ago after 50 years of publishing, under advertising and Covid-19 strains.
He sent me an August 26, 2009, interview he did with Harris and gave me permission to excerpt portions. It’s headlined, “Kamala Devi Harris: The ‘female Obama’ discusses her campaign for California attorney general.”
The piece highlights the role of her Indian identity, sure to surface again in the coming months. Harris’ rise as the daughter of immigrants — one from Jamaica, one from India — serves a powerful counternarrative to President Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric and policies.
Aziz Haniffa: What did your mom instill in you, in terms of culture and heritage?
Harris: My mother was very proud of her Indian heritage and taught us, me and my sister Maya, to share in the pride about our culture. We used to go back to India every couple of years. One of the most influential people in my life, in addition to my mother, was my grandfather P.V. Gopalan, who actually held a post in India that was like the Secretary of State position in this country. My grandfather was one of the original Independence fighters in India, and some of my fondest memories from childhood were walking along the beach with him after he retired and lived in Besant Nagar, in what was then called Madras.
He would take walks every morning along the beach with his buddies who were all retired government officials and they would talk about politics, about how corruption must be fought and about justice. They would laugh and voice opinions and argue, and those conversations, even more than their actions, had such a strong influence on me in terms in terms of learning to be responsible, to be honest, and to have integrity. When we think about it, India is the oldest democracy in the world – so that is part of my background, and without question has had a great deal of influence on what I do today and who I am.
AH: Would it be true to say then that the roots of your civil rights activism began with those walks on the beach with your grandfather, as much as in your parents’ involvement in the civil rights movement in the US during their student days at the University of California?
Harris: It is important to not say one thing to the exclusion of the other, because I don’t feel the need to do that. They are of equal weight in terms of who I am and the impact that they had on me growing up. My grandparents used to visit us in Berkeley all the time. My grandfather and grandmother enjoyed the time they spent with people of all walks of life who were involved in the civil rights movement. I believe that one of the benefits of having travelled the world and having known different cultures is that you really understand and see very clearly that people, whoever they are, whatever language they speak, have so much more in common than they do differences.
AH: Some Indian-American politicians like Bobby Jindal have, after winning election campaigns in which they sought and received the support of the community, sought to distance themselves from their Indian-American heritage. What is your view on how the ethnicity factor plays out?
Harris: I am proud to be who I am, I am proud of the influences that my family have had on my life, that my community had on my life, and similarly the influence of my mentors and colleagues and friends. One is not to the exclusion of the other – I believe that point is at the heart of this matter. We have to stop seeing issues and people through a plate-glass window as though we were one-dimensional. Instead, we have to see that most people exist through a prism and they are a sum of many factors — everyone is that way, and that is just the reality of it. ( CNN / IM )