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Kamala Harris just showed why Joe Biden chose her as his running mate

“The President’s mismanagement of the pandemic has plunged us into the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, and we’re experiencing a moral reckoning with racism and systemic injustice that has brought a new coalition of conscience to the streets of our country demanding change,” Harris said at the afternoon event in Wilmington, Delaware.

“America is crying out for leadership. Yet we have a President who cares more about himself than the people who elected him,” said Harris, who abandoned her own bid for the White House less than a year ago before a single vote was cast. “As someone who has presented my fair share of arguments in court, the case against Donald Trump and Mike Pence is open and shut.”

It was a first performance that showcased Harris’ political deftness and why she will be a formidable adversary for Trump and Vice President Mike Pence this fall, both in her ability to connect with stories of average Americans struggling through the pandemic and to throw a clean punch without fear of the ramifications.

In her speech, she made a direct contrast between Trump — who recently shrugged off the more than 165,000 American Covid-19 deaths by saying, “It is what it is” — and what she described as Biden’s qualities of “empathy, his compassion, his sense of duty,” adding that she and the former vice president were both “cut from the same cloth.”

She charged that Trump’s failure to take the virus seriously, to get coronavirus testing up and running, to offer a national strategy for ending the pandemic has led to 16 million people without jobs, “a crisis of poverty, of homelessness” that is “afflicting Black, brown, and indigenous people the most” and “more than 165,000 lives cut short, many with loved ones who never got the chance to say goodbye.”

“It didn’t have to be this way,” she said.

Harris also sought to convey an understanding of what average families are dealing with by pointing to the “complete chaos” over when and how to open schools: “Mothers and fathers are confused, uncertain and angry about child care and the safety of their kids at schools — whether they’ll be in danger if they go or fall behind if they don’t.”

She eviscerated Trump’s leadership failures by noting that his family’s wealth had paved his way to power, charging that he had “inherited the longest economic expansion in history” from the Obama administration “and then, like everything else he inherited, he ran it straight into the ground.”

Over her career in politics — as district attorney of San Francisco, California’s attorney general, the state’s junior senator and now as a presidential candidate — Harris has sometimes struggled to hold the energy of a room or to sustain the cheers that are so important in maintaining a candidate’s momentum.

But in the era of campaigning mid-pandemic, that was not an issue Wednesday in the nearly empty gym, where only socially distant — and silent — reporters and staff served as the audience.

Instead, Harris was able to speak directly to the camera in a setting that seemed almost intimate because there were no cheers, applause or distractions — making her case for why a Democratic win in November might matter in the daily lives of Americans.

She wove aspects of her personal story with Biden’s, noting that she had come to know the former vice president because of her friendship with his son Beau, a former Delaware attorney general who died of brain cancer.

Demonstrating the role she will play in humanizing Biden, she touched on the story of how the elder Biden “rode the rails” between Washington and his home in Delaware for four hours a day after his first wife and his daughter died in a car accident so that he would be able to make breakfast for his sons in the morning and tuck them in at night.

“All of this so two little boys, who’d just lost their mom and sister in a tragic accident, would know the world was still turning,” Harris said. “And that’s how I came to know Joe. He’s someone whose first response, when things get tough, is never to think about himself, but to take care of everybody else.”

Introducing his running mate earlier in the event, Biden explained why he had chosen Harris, the first Black woman and first person of South Asian descent on a major party’s presidential ticket.

As the child of immigrants from Jamaica and India, Harris “knows personally how immigrant families enrich our country,” Biden said, adding that “her story is America’s story.”

Previewing arguments that will be important in key swing states as his campaign tries to convince Americans than they are not better off than they were four years ago, he also tried to link Harris’ agenda to his own, noting her efforts to help working families after the foreclosure crisis, when she took on the big banks, and her advocacy for “folks” who are looking for a “fair shot of making it.”

Biden seemed to enjoy drawing attention to Trump’s sexist remarks about Harris, such as when the President repeatedly called her “nasty” shortly after Biden announced her as his running mate, stating that the President was “whining.”

“Is anyone surprised Donald Trump has a problem with a strong woman? And we know that more is to come,” Biden said. He called on “working people” to defend his new partner.

“Kamala Harris has had your back — and now, we have to have her back,” he said. “She’s going to stand with me in this campaign, and all of us are going to stand up for her.”

During an interview with Eric Bolling from “America This Week,” a Sinclair program, Trump said Harris was not “liked” — a gendered criticism that was often used to describe 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

“She’s not a person who’s liked. I think people will fall out of love with her very quickly. Very quickly,” Trump told Bolling. “She campaigned, and she campaigned very hard. Whenever people heard her open her mouth, she went down.”

Biden also did not let the historic nature of his pick go unnoticed at their first event together. As Harris looked on, now firmly in the role of a supporting player, Biden imagined the reaction of “little Black and brown girls, who so often feel overlooked and undervalued in their communities.”

“Today, just maybe,” he said, “they’re seeing themselves for the first time in a new way.”

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Joe Biden and Kamala Harris speeches: Election 2020 live updates

A sign advertises the Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee. The speaker list for the convention has been scaled back significantly after the coronavirus forced Democratic planners to scrap plans for an in-person event in Milwaukee and shrink most of the live programming to two hours each night from 9 p.m. ET to 11 p.m. ET. Bryan R. Smith/AFP/Getty Images

Former Vice President Joe Biden, the Democratic party’s presumptive nominee, is set to accept the party’s nomination and deliver his acceptance speech next Thursday during the Democratic National Convention held in a virtual setting. Vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris is expected to do the same a night earlier.

The Democratic National Convention Committee on Tuesday announced its speaker line-up for the convention, unveiling a list that includes both Barack and Michelle Obama, Jill Biden and a host of women Biden had considered as his running mate.

The speaker list for the convention has been scaled back significantly after coronavirus forced Democratic planners to scrap plans for an in-person event in Milwaukee and shrink most of the live programming to two hours each night from 9 p.m. ET to 11 p.m. ET.

Michelle Obama and Jill Biden will headline the first two nights of the convention, and Harris, along with former President Barack Obama, are expected to deliver the keynote Wednesday evening. Biden, introduced by his family, will accept the nomination on Thursday night.

The list of speakers from the four-night event aims to represent the ideological diversity inside the Democratic Party, with representatives from the party’s left like Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez speaking, along with more moderate members of the party like vulnerable Alabama Sen. Doug Jones and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar each getting key speaking slots.

Monday’s speaker line-up features the broadest representation of Joe Biden’s supporters across the Democratic spectrum, from Sanders, a leader of the progressive wing of the Democratic Party to Klobuchar, his one-time primary opponent. Former Gov. John Kasich, who ran for the Republican nomination for president in 2016, is also slated to speak on the same evening.

Neither Biden nor Harris will travel to Milwaukee, the original convention site, due to safety concerns related to Covid-19. Instead, Biden will accept the nomination from Delaware.

Read more about the DNC line-up here.

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Here’s why Joe Biden chose Kamala Harris as his VP

Harris, who ran unsuccessfully for the Democratic presidential nomination earlier this year, had been the front-runner to be Biden’s pick for months because, well, she simply made sense.

* She has experience in government — as both the California attorney general and as a US senator since 2017

* At 55 years old, she represents a younger generation of leader — something that Biden, who will be 78 on Inauguration Day 2021, said was a major factor in his choice

* She is a historic pick as the first Black and South Asian American woman to appear on a major party’s national ticket

* She’s from California, a massive treasure trove of both Democratic votes and Democratic donors

* She emerged as an outspoken voice on race — and the need for police reform — following the death of George Floyd in May and the subsequent protests it sparked around the country

There was no one else on Biden’s VP shortlist that checked so many boxes.

What’s telling is that Biden — and his team — didn’t feel the need to reach for a less predictable pick. They knew that while picking Harris would draw considerable attention, it would also be the thing most people expected them to do. Despite the historic nature of putting Harris on the ticket, Biden and his advisers knew that selecting Harris might be described by some as unsurprising.

But one man’s “unsurprising” is another man’s “safe.” And that’s exactly what Harris is — and what Biden believes he needs.

See, if you are Joe Biden, making your third run for president and ahead in virtually every swing state and nationally over President Donald Trump, every day between now and November 3 you want to do nothing that threatens to change the underlying dynamics of the race. And those underlying dynamics are that this election is a referendum on Trump’s first term in office and, more specifically, the deeply haphazard and erratic way in which he has handled the coronavirus pandemic in the country.

Under that theory of the case, Biden needs to spend most of his time convincing voters that Trump deserves to be fired and a (relatively) small amount of time making sure they believe he could do the job in the incumbent’s place.

What that all means is that Biden wants the race to be about him as little as possible. He doesn’t want to turn this into 2016 all over again, in which Hillary Clinton was forced by Trump to play defense over her time (and emails) at the State Department. He doesn’t want the race to turn into a war of words or a battle to see who can sink lower in terms of personal attacks.

And so, in making the most important decision of his campaign, Biden abided by that approach. He wanted to, above all, do no harm.

Picking former US Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice, who saw her fortunes soar in the finals days of the veepstakes, undoubtedly appealed to Biden, since he had the closest personal relationship with her and believed she could help him heal the wounds, internationally, that Trump has created. But Rice’s ties to the attacks in Benghazi, Libya — not to mention her presence in a January 20, 2017, meeting on Michael Flynn — created clear attack lines for Trump’s campaign to turn the spotlight from his flailing bid to Biden and Rice.

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms was, without question, one of Biden’s most trusted, effective and loyal surrogates throughout the 2020 race. She was with him when no one thought he could come back from dismal finishes in Iowa and New Hampshire. But with her time as mayor of Atlanta being her highest level of experience in elected office, Biden would open himself up to questions about whether she would be ready to take on the top job at a moment’s notice.

California Rep. Karen Bass’ time as speaker of the State Assembly in California and her ability to appeal to Democrats of all ideological stripes made her an attractive choice. But past comments about Fidel Castro and Scientology — and Bass’ shaky responses when pushed on those comments — suggested that she might not be ready for the full glare of the national spotlight.

Harris, by contrast, had no obvious weakness that the Trump campaign would exploit.

Yes, it would note — as it did shortly after the pick was announced! — that she had slammed Biden’s stance on segregated busing in a June 2019 presidential debate. (“Not long ago, Kamala Harris called Joe Biden a racist and asked for an apology she never received,” said Trump campaign spokeswoman Katrina Pierson.) But it’s hard to see that attack doing much damage, given that Biden made history by picking Harris.

Is the he’s-a-secret-racist message really going to resonate given not only that but also a series of examples of Trump weaponizing White animosity toward minorities during his time in office? No way. And, while her prosecutor past in California might rankle some liberals who believed she was too aggressive in policing, it’s equally hard to imagine that liberals — faced with the prospect of four more years of Trump — would abandon Biden because of it.

What Biden did is make the pick that maximized his chances of continuing to make the race a straight referendum on Trump while also selecting someone, in Harris, whose resume suggests will be ready to step in if and when Biden decides to step aside.

This is the VP choice of a confident candidate, and campaign, who believe they are winning. And who believe that, as long they execute the basics of the campaign between now and November 3, Biden will be sworn in as the 46th president on January 20, 2021.

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Joe Biden Picks Kamala Harris as 2020 Running Mate

Jahi ChikwendiuGetty Images

Long about 4:20 ET Tuesday afternoon, Mike Pence of Indiana felt a cold chill Down There and he didn’t know why.

Joe Biden returned to the inevitable by selecting Senator Kamala Harris to be his running mate. This decision put Pence in a nutcracker. Either he has to debate Harris on television—and he’s seen what happened to witnesses before Senate committees when Harris’s turn came around to question them—or he won’t get the chance, because this selection has to make some of the cutthroats on the other side wonder if dumping Pence for, say, Nikki Haley, is the proper countermove. (Narrator: They won’t, but you know some of them are thinking about it.) Frankly, given the choice between public evisceration and public defenestration, I don’t know which way Pence would go. Maybe he should poll on it.

columbia, sc   june 22 democratic presidential candidate, sen kamala harris d ca addresses the crowd at the 2019 south carolina democratic party state convention on june 22, 2019 in columbia, south carolina democratic presidential hopefuls are converging on south carolina this weekend for a host of events where the candidates can directly address an important voting bloc in the democratic primary photo by sean rayfordgetty images

Pence will feel a chill.

Sean RayfordGetty Images

The pick makes all kinds of sense. It always made all kinds of sense. It energizes the most loyal segment of the Democratic base. It honors the election of Barack Obama and the legacy of Biden’s work in that administration, while simultaneously acknowledging the reality, seen now in the streets, that, despite the fond anesthetic rhetoric of conservatives, the election of Barack Obama did not solve entirely systemic racism in this society. It puts a prosecutorial edge on the campaign that any campaign against the current president* needs. It injects the campaign with hot molten steel. At the same time, Harris is a genuinely charismatic person. And it demonstrates that, unlike the incumbent, Joe Biden can handle tough criticism like an adult. Nobody was tougher on him during the campaign than Harris was. (Her summoning up his history on busing was the single most memorable haymaker of the entire cycle.) The pick says as much about him as it does about her. There won’t be anyone tailoring intel reports to avoid presidential tantrums.

(Also, Harris’s election would enable Rep. Katie Porter to run for Senate in California. Bonus!)

There is some baggage in Harris’s past as a prosecutor, and as an attorney general, which gives me pause, and which is why I didn’t vote for her in the primaries. But given the way events have unfolded over the past several months, and given the way the entire dynamic of the election has changed so utterly, the logic behind choosing her grew more compelling, not less. I kept coming back to the times I sat in at various hearings in which she challenged the members of the administration* that has led the nation into disaster, and she did so before they led the nation into disaster. She has receipts to carry us into the next decade.

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Joe Biden photographed with Kamala Harris talking points as running mate speculation grows

The notes, which were photographed at a speech in Wilmington, Delaware, feature Harris’ name followed by five talking points: “Do not hold grudges,” “Campaigned with me & Jill,” “Talented,” “Great help to campaign” and “Great respect for her.”

The Biden campaign declined to comment to CNN on Tuesday night.

The prominence of Harris on Biden’s notes follows a Politico story in which former Sen. Chris Dodd of Connecticut, a member of Biden’s team vetting potential vice presidential picks, is reported as being critical of her.
His criticism stems from Harris’ attack on the former vice president in a June 2019 Democratic primary debate. She criticized Biden for having touted his “civil” working relationship with segregationist senators, and launched a scathing and personal attack on his opposition to federally mandated school desegregation busing.

“Vice President Biden, I do not believe you are a racist, and I agree with you, when you commit yourself to the importance of finding common ground,” Harris had said on the debate stage. “But I also believe — and it’s personal — it was actually hurtful to hear you talk about the reputations of two United States senators who built their reputations and career on the segregation of race in this country.”

“It was not only that … ,” she continued. “There was a little girl in California who was part of the second class to integrate her public schools and she was bused to school every day. That little girl was me.”

Her attack stunned Biden, who noted that she’d had a good relationship with his son, former Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden, before he’d died. And it rocked the Democratic race, sending Harris into the primary’s top tier of contenders and damaging Biden. Harris could not sustain that momentum, and she dropped out before the Iowa caucuses.

But with Harris now widely seen as a top contender for the vice presidential nomination, one key question is whether the wounds from that attack have healed.

Dodd, according to Politico’s account, reportedly told a longtime Biden supporter that when he asked Harris about that debate-stage attack, “She laughed and said, ‘That’s politics.’ She had no remorse.”

Biden said after his speech in Wilmington on Tuesday that he will choose his vice presidential running mate next week.

Asked by CNN whether he will meet in person with finalists for the role, Biden said, “We’ll see.”

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Joe Biden hires former aide to Kamala Harris to help with Latino outreach

By ALEXANDRA JAFFE

WASHINGTON (AP) — Joe Biden’s presidential campaign is bringing on the granddaughter of civil rights leader César Chávez as a senior adviser to help with Latino outreach and building out its operation in the states.

Some Latino leaders have criticized the Biden campaign, saying it’s not doing enough to reach out to the key demographic group.

The new adviser, Julie Chavez Rodriguez, previously worked as co-national political director on California Sen. Kamala Harris’s presidential campaign and was her California state director before that. She also served in the Obama administration, overseeing the White House’s engagement with LGBT, Latino, veteran, youth, education, labor and progressive leaders.

She’s joining Cristóbal Alex, a former president of the Latino Victory Fund, who serves as Biden’s senior adviser for issues involving Hispanic voters.

Biden is viewed with skepticism by some Latinos for his ties to deportation policies during the Obama administration. He struggled with Latino outreach throughout the Democratic presidential primary, facing pro-immigration protesters, and last November his most senior Latina aide quit the campaign after reportedly raising concerns that the campaign hadn’t focused enough on Latino voters.

Indeed, Latino voters strongly sided with Bernie Sanders during the Democratic primary.

But the Biden campaign has ramped up its outreach to Latinos in recent weeks. Earlier this month, Biden held an online event with the League of United Latin American Citizens at which he focused on the poor conditions experienced by workers at meatpacking plants, many of whom, he noted, are black or Latino.

His campaign is reportedly working on a multimillion-dollar outreach plan focused on Latino men. And this month, Biden also spoke with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez as she was named to a unity task force aimed at bridging the gap between Biden and Sanders supporters.

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Catch up on the 2020 election campaign with AP experts on our weekly politics podcast, “Ground Game.”