Kamala Harris targets Trump’s ‘failed government’ in first event with Biden
Senator says she is ‘proud to stand’ with former vice-president on Democratic ticket
Vice-presidential hopeful Kamala Harris pledged to get to work immediately to help defeat Donald Trump, as she joined Joe Biden on stage for the first time since the former vice-president named her as his running mate in November’s US election.
“We don’t have to accept the failed government of Donald Trump and Mike Pence. In just 83 days, we have a chance to choose a better future for this country,” the California senator said at an event in a gymnasium in Wilmington, Delaware. “The president’s mismanagement of the pandemic has plunged us into the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.”
“Joe, I’m so proud to stand with you. And I do so mindful of all the heroic and ambitious women before me whose sacrifice, determination, and resilience makes my presence here today even possible,” she said.
“I am incredibly honoured by this responsibility and I’m ready to get to work,” she added. “This is a moment of real consequence for America. Everything we care about – our economy , our health, our children, the kind of country we live in. It’s all on the line.”
Ms Harris spoke at length about her friendship with Mr Biden’s late son Beau, who died in 2015 when both were attorneys general.
Introducing Ms Harris at a high school close to his home in Delaware, Mr Biden called it “an exciting day. It’s a great day for our campaign and it’s a great day for America, in my view.”
Highlighting her background as the daughter of immigrants and her experience as attorney general and district attorney in California, Mr Biden said “she’s smart, she’s tough, she’s experienced, she’s a proven fighter for the backbone of this society, for the middle class.”
“Her story is America’s story, different than mine in many particulars, but not so different in the essentials . . . she’s worked hard, she’s never backed down from a challenge,” he said.
Speaking about Ms Harris as a role model for “young black and brown girls”, he said: “Maybe, just maybe, they’re seeing themselves in a new way as the stuff of presidents and vice-presidents”.
Noting Mr Trump’s criticism of Ms Harris since the announcement, Mr Biden asked: “Is anyone surprised that Donald Trump has a problem with a strong woman, or strong women across the board?
Mr Biden also recalled that it was the third anniversary of Charlottesville – the incident that left one person dead following a far-right march to protest against the removal of a Confederate statue in the Virginia city. That event had prompted his decision to run for president, he said.
He said that Ms Harris’s husband, Doug Emhoff, would be “America’s first second gentlemen”, noting how he had first gotten to know Ms Harris through her friendship with Beau. “I know how much Beau respected Kamala and her work, and that meant a lot to me to be honest with me as I made my decision.”
A Biden-Harris administration, he said, would fix the “mess that President Trump and Vice-president Pence have created at home and abroad,” referencing their “coddling of terrorists and thugs across the world”.
Mr Biden ended months of speculation on Tuesday when he named Ms Harris (55) as his running mate for November’s election.
Ms Harris, who had been an early front-runner despite clashing with Mr Biden about his record on race relations during the Democratic debate in Miami last June, learned of her appointment during a video call with the former vice-president.
Her appointment was widely welcomed by senior Democrats, many of whom had urged Mr Biden to choose a woman of colour as his running mate. Ms Harris, whose mother was born in India and whose father hails from Jamaica, is the first black woman to be named on a presidential ticket by either of the two main US political parties.
Former president Barack Obama said that Mr Biden, who served as his vice-president for eight years, had chosen “the ideal partner to help him tackle the very real challenges America faces right now and in the years ahead”.
“I’ve known Senator Kamala Harris for a long time,” he said. “She is more than prepared for the job. She’s spent her career defending our Constitution and fighting for folks who need a fair shake. This is a good day for our country . . . Now let’s go win this thing.”
House speaker Nancy Pelosi also congratulated her fellow Californian representative in Congress, describing her as “the best possible person” Mr Biden could have chosen as his running mate, despite reports that the House speaker had recommended congresswoman Karen Bass as a serious candidate for the position.
Meanwhile, President Donald Trump wasted little time in attacking Mr Biden’s newly-announced running mate. At a press conference at the White House less than two hours after the appointment was announced, Mr Trump denounced Ms Harris as “nasty”.
“She was extraordinarily nasty to Kavanaugh – Judge Kavanaugh, then; now Justice Kavanaugh,” he said, referring to the supreme court justice who was interviewed by the Senate judiciary committee over historic accusations of sexual assault. “She was nasty to a level that was just a horrible thing . . . I won’t forget that soon,” he said.
He also said she is “big into raising taxes”, “wants to slash funds for our military”, and supports “socalised medicine”.
Mr Trump pointed out that Ms Harris had lost her own presidential bid and he was surprised that Mr Biden had picked her. “She was very disrespectful to Joe Biden,” he said, and “was probably nastier than even Pocahontas to Joe Biden”, he added, referring to senator Elizabeth Warren, who has highlighted her native American heritage.
The Trump election campaign, which issued an ad denouncing “phony Kamala” within minutes of Mr Biden’s choice being announced, also organised a conference call with reporters on Wednesday during which New York Republican Elise Stefanik lambasted the Californian senator’s record.
Describing Ms Harris as a “far left Californian radical”, she said: “What’s historic about this Democratic ticket is it is the most far left ticket in the history of the Democratic Party. ”
Ms Harris has in fact been criticised as too centrist by many on the left of the Democratic Party, and has faced scrutiny over criticism that she did not sufficiently address accusations of police misconduct when she was attorney general of California and district attorney of San Francisco.
Both Mr Biden and Ms Harris will officially accept their party’s nomination at next week’s Democratic National Convention, which will mostly be a virtual event due to the coronavirus pandemic.