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Biden Picks Harris as Running Mate     08/12 06:30

   Joe Biden named California Sen. Kamala Harris as his running mate, making 
history by selecting the first Black woman to compete on a major party's 
presidential ticket and acknowledging the vital role Black voters will play in 
his bid to defeat President Donald Trump.

   WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) -- Joe Biden named California Sen. Kamala Harris as 
his running mate, making history by selecting the first Black woman to compete 
on a major party's presidential ticket and acknowledging the vital role Black 
voters will play in his bid to defeat President Donald Trump.

   In choosing Harris, Biden embraced a former rival from the Democratic 
primary who is familiar with the unique rigor of a national campaign. The 
55-year-old first-term senator, who is also of South Asian descent, is one of 
the party's most prominent figures. She quickly became a top contender for the 
No. 2 spot after her own White House campaign ended.

   She will appear with Biden for the first time as his running mate at an 
event Wednesday near his home in Wilmington, Delaware.

   In announcing the pick Tuesday, Biden called Harris a "fearless fighter for 
the little guy, and one of the country's finest public servants." She said 
Biden would "unify the American people" and "build an America that lives up to 
our ideals."

   Harris joins Biden at a moment of unprecedented national crisis. The 
coronavirus pandemic has claimed the lives of more than 160,000 people in the 
U.S., far more than the toll experienced in other countries. Business closures 
and disruptions resulting from the pandemic have caused severe economic 
problems. Unrest, meanwhile, has emerged across the country as Americans 
protest racism and police brutality.

   Trump's uneven handling of the crises has given Biden an opening, and he 
enters the fall campaign in strong position against the president. In adding 
Harris to the ticket, he can point to her relatively centrist record on issues 
such as health care and her background in law enforcement in the nation's 
largest state.

   The president told reporters Tuesday he was "a little surprised" that Biden 
picked Harris, pointing to their debate stage disputes during the primary. 
Trump, who had donated to her previous campaigns, argued she was "about the 
most liberal person in the U.S. Senate."

   "I would have thought that Biden would have tried to stay away from that a 
little bit," he said.

   Harris's record as California attorney general and district attorney in San 
Francisco was heavily scrutinized during the Democratic primary and turned away 
some liberals and younger Black voters who saw her as out of step on issues of 
racism in the legal system and police brutality. She declared herself a 
"progressive prosecutor" who backs law enforcement reforms.

   Biden, who spent eight years as President Barack Obama's vice president, has 
spent months weighing who would fill that same role in his White House. He 
pledged in March to select a woman as his vice president, easing frustration 
among Democrats that the presidential race would center on two white men in 
their 70s.

   Biden's search was expansive, including Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, 
a leading progressive; Florida Rep. Val Demings, whose impeachment criticism of 
Trump won party plaudits; California Rep. Karen Bass, who leads the 
Congressional Black Caucus; former Obama national security adviser Susan Rice; 
and Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, whose passionate response to unrest in 
her city garnered national attention.

   A woman has never served as president or vice president in the United 
States. Hillary Clinton was the Democratic presidential nominee in 2016. Two 
women have been nominated as running mates on major party tickets: Democrat 
Geraldine Ferraro in 1984 and Republican Sarah Palin in 2008. Their parties 
lost in the general election.

   The vice presidential pick carries increased significance this year. If 
elected, Biden would be 78 when inaugurated in January, the oldest man to ever 
assume the presidency. He's spoken of himself as a transitional figure and 
hasn't fully committed to seeking a second term in 2024.

   Harris, born in 1964 to a Jamaican father and Indian mother, spent much of 
her formative years in Berkeley, California. She has often spoken of the deep 
bond she shared with her mother, whom she has called her single biggest 
influence.

   Harris won her first election in 2003 when she became San Francisco's 
district attorney. In that post, she created a reentry program for low-level 
drug offenders and cracked down on student truancy.

   She was elected California's attorney general in 2010, the first woman and 
Black person to hold the job, and focused on issues including the foreclosure 
crisis. She declined to defend the state's Proposition 8, which banned same-sex 
marriage and was later overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court.

   After being elected to the Senate in 2016, she quickly gained attention for 
her assertive questioning of Trump administration officials during 
congressional hearings.

   Harris launched her presidential campaign in early 2019 with the slogan 
"Kamala Harris For the People," a reference to her courtroom work. She was one 
of the highest-profile contenders in a crowded Democratic primary and attracted 
20,000 people to her first campaign rally in Oakland.

   But the early promise of her campaign eventually faded. Her law enforcement 
background prompted skepticism from some progressives, and she struggled to 
land on a consistent message that resonated with voters. Facing fundraising 
problems, she abruptly withdrew from the race in December 2019, two months 
before the first votes of the primary were cast.

   One standout moment of her presidential campaign came at the expense of 
Biden. During a debate, she said Biden made "very hurtful" comments about his 
past work with segregationist senators and slammed his opposition to busing as 
schools began to integrate in the 1970s.

   "There was a little girl in California who was a part of the second class to 
integrate her public schools, and she was bused to school every day," she said. 
"And that little girl was me."

   Shaken by the attack, Biden called her comments "a mischaracterization of my 
position."

   The exchange resurfaced recently with a report that one of Biden's closest 
friends and a co-chair of his vice presidential vetting committee, former 
Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd, still harbors concerns about the debate and that 
Harris hadn't expressed regret. The comments attributed to Dodd and first 
reported by Politico drew condemnation, especially from influential Democratic 
women who said Harris was being held to a standard that wouldn't apply to a man 
running for president.

   Some Biden confidants said Harris' debate attack did irritate the former 
vice president, who had a friendly relationship with her. Harris was also close 
with Biden's late son, Beau, who served as Delaware attorney general while she 
held the same post in California.

   But Biden and Harris have since returned to a warm relationship.

   "Joe has empathy, he has a proven track record of leadership and more than 
ever before we need a president of the United States who understands who the 
people are, sees them where they are, and has a genuine desire to help and 
knows how to fight to get us where we need to be," Harris said at an event for 
Biden earlier this summer.

   At the same event, she bluntly assailed Trump, labeling him a "drug pusher" 
for his promotion of the unproven and much-questioned malaria drug 
hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for the coronavirus. After Trump tweeted 
"when the looting starts, the shooting starts" in response to protests about 
the death of George Floyd, a Black man in police custody, Harris said his 
remarks "yet again show what racism looks like."

   Harris has taken a tougher stand on policing since Floyd's killing. She 
co-sponsored legislation in June that would ban police from using chokeholds 
and no-knock warrants, set a national use-of-force standard and create a 
national police misconduct registry, among other things. It would also reform 
the qualified immunity system that shields officers from liability.

   The list in the legislation included practices Harris did not vocally fight 
to reform while leading California's Department of Justice. And while she now 
wants independent investigations of police shootings, she didn't support a 2015 
California bill that would have required her office to take on such cases.

   "We made progress, but clearly we are not at the place yet as a country 
where we need to be and California is no exception," she told The Associated 
Press recently. The national focus on racial injustice now, she said, shows 
"there's no reason that we have to continue to wait."

 
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