Harris would break barriers as a high-profile vice president
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[October 31, 2020]
By James Oliphant
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Kamala Harris will
make history if she becomes the next vice president of the United States
in the election on Tuesday, and she will immediately be in a strong
position to run for the top job four years from now.
If Joe Biden and his running mate Harris win the election, she would be
the first woman, the first Black American and the first Asian American
to hold the country's second highest office.
Given his age, the 77-year-old Biden is not expected to seek a second
term so Harris, 56, would be an obvious candidate for the Democratic
nomination in 2024.
A U.S. senator from California, Harris has a track record of shattering
glass ceilings. She served as San Francisco’s first female district
attorney and was California's first woman of color to be elected
Her background in criminal justice could help a Biden administration
tackle the issues of racial equality and policing after the country was
swept by protests this year.
Harris, whose mother and father emigrated from India and Jamaica,
respectively, had her sights set on becoming the first woman U.S.
president when she competed against Biden and others for their party's
She dropped out of the race last December after a campaign hurt by her
wavering views on healthcare and indecision about embracing her past as
Biden looked beyond some of the harsh words Harris had for him in that
campaign to name her his running mate in August. She has proven to be a
valuable and polished stand-in, appealing especially to women,
progressives and voters of color who are critical to the party’s
Harris, who developed a deep fundraising network during her Senate and
White House bids, has been instrumental to Biden's raking in record sums
of money in the closing months of the campaign. Her selection sparked a
burst of excitement in the Democratic base and among the party’s donors.
"Harris always made the most sense as a running mate for Biden because
she had the ability to help him unify the Democratic coalition across
racial and generational lines and was able to spike base enthusiasm,"
said Joel Payne, a Democratic strategist who worked for Hillary
Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign.
A TEAM PLAYER
Accusations from progressives that Harris did not do enough to
investigate police shootings and wrongful conviction cases when she was
California's attorney general helped doom her own presidential run but
have surfaced little during her time as Biden’s running mate.
President Donald Trump and his Republican re-election campaign have
sought to paint Harris instead as a tool of the Democratic left who
would wield power and influence behind the scenes in a Biden presidency.
She has seemingly put to rest concerns among some in the Biden camp
prior to her selection that she would be too personally ambitious to
make a trustworthy partner.
[to top of second column]
Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe
Biden and U.S. Senator and Democratic candidate for Vice President
Kamala Harris celebrate after Joe Biden accepted the 2020 Democratic
presidential nomination during the 4th and final night of the 2020
Democratic National Convention, as participants from across the
country are hosted over video links from the originally planned site
of the convention in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, U.S. August 20, 2020.
Harris has shown herself to be a team player, taking on a
lower-profile role and holding virtual and in-person political
events that sometimes drew little news coverage, while often
speaking in terms of what Biden would do for the country if elected
and making an impassioned case against Trump.
“Joe and I were raised in a very similar way,” Harris said of Biden
at her October debate against Vice President Mike Pence. “We were
raised with values that are about hard work, about the value and the
dignity of public service and about the importance of fighting for
the dignity of all people.”
Harris has juggled her running mate duties with her day job in the
Senate. Befitting her background as a prosecutor, she was a deft
cross-examiner of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett at
Barrett's Senate confirmation hearing in October, weaving Biden’s
campaign message on healthcare and climate change into her line of
As the Senate’s only Black woman, Harris emerged this year as a
leading voice on racial justice and police reform after Minneapolis
police killed African-American man George Floyd in May. She marched
with protesters on the streets of Washington and won over some
Should Biden assume the presidency, Harris is expected to be a top
adviser on criminal justice and judicial nominations, among other
Asked on "60 Minutes" last month why, given Biden's age, he believed
Harris would be ready to step into the presidency if something
happened to him, the presidential candidate rapidly fired off five
"Number one, her values. Number two, she is smart as a devil, and
number three, she has a backbone like a ramrod. Number four, she is
really principled. And number five, she has had significant
experience in the largest state in the Union in running the justice
department that’s only second in size to the United States Justice
Department. And obviously, I hope that never becomes a question," he
Harris is married to attorney Douglas Emhoff, who has been a fixture
on the campaign trail. His two children from a previous marriage
refer to their stepmother as "Momala."
(Reporting by James Oliphant; Editing by Colleen Jenkins and
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