Biden campaign announces VP pick, Kamala Harris to mixed response from left-leaning democrats and cheers from centrist party leaders.
The Biden campaign characterized Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), and Biden’s former primary challenger, as an advocate for working class families, and a check on Trump’s power. By prosecuting child sexual assault cases, starting a program to “provide first-time drug offenders second chances,” and prosecuting “big banks that were unfairly foreclosing on homes,” the campaign believes Harris represented the interests of working families. Additionally, the campaign describes Harris protecting Obamacare, helping win marriage equality for all, defending progressive climate change law as California’s attorney general.
The campaign summarized Harris’ Senate career, “since being elected to the U.S. Senate in 2016, Kamala has introduced and co-sponsored legislation to help the middle class, increase the minimum wage to $15, reform cash bail, and defend the legal rights of refugees and immigrants.”
On the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Harris works with sensitive national security and international threats, says the campaign. On the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, she oversees the federal response to emergencies like COVID-19. On the Judiciary Committee, the campaign credits her with “holding Trump administration officials accountable” and serving as a “powerful voice against Trump’s conservative judicial nominations.”
Biden: she’s a “fighter”
A close relationship between Harris and Biden’s son Beau, developed as the two fought to “take on the banking industry.”
Biden was introduced to Harris through his son. Observing her career, Biden concluded that Harris is a “fighter,” who “doesn’t hesitate to take on powerful people and powerful interests.”
According to the campaign, Harris, in the Senate and as a prosecutor, championed racial justice, working class people, criminal justice reform, student debt reform, environmental justice, LGBTQ+ rights, and women’s rights.
The campaign highlighted Harris’ defining victories. This year, Harris created a COVID-19 Racial and Ethnic Disparities Task Force to combat racial inequities in the Trump Administration’s COVID-19 response. Harris cosponsored legislation to raise the federal minimum wage to $15, in the Senate. As a San Francisco District Attorney, she created a drug re-entry program to direct young drug offenders to counseling programs instead of jail. She also mandated a body camera program within her Department of Justice. The campaign also credited Harris with ending cash bail, taking on big oil companies, establishing a safe house for victims of human trafficking, championing a bill to make lynching a federal crime, leading the charge to release migrant children from HHS and DHS custody, and officiating the first same-sex wedding in California after the Supreme court failed to defend LGBTQ+ rights.
Critics from the left and right, support from the center
From the left, Harris was criticized for her record on police reform and racial justice. Critics raised incidents which the Biden campaign ignored in their statement. Former national press secretary for Sen. Bernie Sanders’ 2020 presidential campaign, tweeted “we are in the midst of the largest protest movement in American history, the subject of which is excessive policing, and the Democratic Party chose a ‘top cop’ and the author of the Joe Biden crime bill to save us from Trump. The contempt for the base is, wow.” Harris labeled herself a “top cop,” publicly.
Harris’ record as a prosecutor marred her own primary campaign. On the debate stage, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard attacked Harris for “[putting] over 1,500 people in jail for marijuana violations and [laughing] about it when she was asked if she ever smoked marijuana.”
The Los Angeles chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America called Harris a “cop,” saying “our stance will always be: abolish the police.”
The Progressive Democrats of America and RootsAction issued a joint statement, writing that Harris “failed for years to hold police accountable for gross misconduct in California. We will fight every day to hold Vice President Harris to the higher ideals she often espouses.”
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), previously a left challenger for the Democratic party nomination, tweeted his support for Harris. “Congratulations to @KamalaHarris, who will make history as our next Vice President,” he wrote. “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. Let’s get to work and win.”
Less surprisingly, moderate Democrats also lauded Biden’s choice. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), published a statement saying “as Vice President of the United States, Senator Harris will continue her legacy of trailblazing leadership to move our nation forward.” Former President Bill Clinton called Harris a “terrific choice.” Hillary Clinton tweeted, Harris is a proven “incredible public servant and leader.”
Finalists for the VP spot, Stacey Abrams and Gretchen Whitmer also tweeted their support for Harris. Abrams writing that she is “thrilled to support @KamalaHarris as the next VP.” Whitmer said Biden-Harris will be a “fierce team to Build America Back Better.”
President Trump commented on Biden’s pick during a press conference, saying “I was a little surprised that he picked her. She did very, very poorly in the primaries.”
His campaign created a video response, in which a narrator speaks over footage of Harris. The narrator says “Voters rejected Harris. They smartly spotted a phony. But not Joe Biden. He’s not that smart. Slow Joe and phony Kamala. Perfect together, wrong for America.” Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel tweeted that “Harris’ extreme positions” demonstrate “the left-wing mob is controlling Joe Biden’s candidacy, just like they would control him as president.”
Trump’s response contradicted his previous commentary. At the end of July, Trump told a gaggle of reporters Harris would be a “fine choice.”
In two months, Kamala Harris will debate Vice President Mike Pence in Utah. September will bring the first Presidential debate between Biden and Trump.