Yesterday afternoon, former Vice President Joe Biden and California Senator Kamala Harris appeared together for the first time as running mates.
The event, which was live-streamed from the gymnasium of the Alexis I. Dupont High School in Wilmington Delaware, saw Biden and Harris make consecutive speeches to a small audience of journalists and photographers from behind a podium bearing a brand new “Biden Harris” campaign placard. Each praised the other effusively in their speeches, which were personal and family-oriented.
Biden drew a direct contrast between his running mate and Donald Trump, calling Harris “smart” and “tough,” while saying Trump “whines better than any president in history” – an effective tactic to undercut the wave of misogyny and racism that was already surging towards Harris from the Republicans’ ranks.
Biden told the assembled reporters and millions watching on TV and livestream that he had selected Harris based on her experience in both executive and legislative roles, her proven readiness to assume greater responsibilities, and the fact that she was able to withstand the rigors of a presidential run of her own.
“It’s been gratifying to see the strong, enthusiastic reaction to Senator Kamala Harris as our next Vice President. In fact, yesterday, we had our best fundraising day of the entire campaign, and we set the all-time record for online political campaign raising. It’s come from people from all parts of the country, all ideological views, all backgrounds.”
– Presumptive presidential nominee Joe Biden
Above all else, though, Biden touted Harris’ personal connection to his own family, through his late son Beau. Beau Biden and Kamala Harris were the attorneys general of Delaware and California respectively during the pits of the Great Recession following the end of the Bush presidency, and developed a close working friendship over those years as they both sought to recoup consumer losses from the large financial institutions that had caused the economic crash.
Biden reminisced about the time he was chosen in 2008 to be Barack Obama’s running mate, and said he asked some of the same questions of Harris that Obama asked of him. For example, he explained that he has asked Harris to be “the last person in the room” to speak before he made major decisions, to ask him tough questions, and challenge his assumptions.
Harris, for her part, proved her abilities from the moment she stepped up to the podium. She shredded Trump’s record in office, while reminding her audience of her record as a prosecutor: “The case against Donald Trump and Mike Pence is open and shut.” She reinforced Biden’s lines of attack against Trump, saying that this election is about “character” and contrasting Trump’s indifference to the death toll of COVID-19 to Biden’s own compassion in his personal and political life.
“This virus has impacted almost every country. But there’s a reason it has hit America worse than any other advanced nation. It’s because of Trump’s failure to take it seriously from the start. His refusal to get testing up and running. His flip-flopping on social distancing and wearing masks. His delusional belief that he knows better than the experts. All of that is the reason why an American dies of COVID-19 every eighty seconds.”
– Presumptive vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris
Reminding the audience that Biden had raised his two sons alone after the death of his wife, Harris observed: “He’s someone whose first response, when things get tough, is never to think about himself, but to take care of everybody else.”
Harris proved herself exceptionally on her first outing as Biden’s vice presidential pick, and sent a definite warning shot across the bows of the Trump campaign. Trump’s team already seem to be confused and rattled by the inclusion of a strong, black woman on the Democratic ticket.