Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden on Tuesday picked Senator Kamala Harris as his choice for vice president, making her the first Black woman on a major-party U.S. presidential ticket and giving him a partner well prepared to go on the attack against Republican President Donald Trump.
With social unrest over racial injustice rocking the country for months, Biden had been under increasing pressure to select a Black woman as his running mate. Harris is also the first Asian-American on a major presidential ticket.
In Harris, a 55-year-old senator from California who made her own run for the White House, Biden gains an experienced politician already battle-tested by the rigors of the 2020 presidential campaign as they head into the final stretch of the Nov. 3 election.
Biden on Twitter called Harris “a fearless fighter for the little guy, and one of the country’s finest public servants.” Harris wrote on Twitter that Biden could “unify the American people because he’s spent his life fighting for us.”
Biden and Harris will appear together on Wednesday at an event in his hometown of Wilmington, Delaware, the campaign said.
Harris, who became only the second Black female U.S. senator in history when elected in 2016, will be relied on to help mobilize African Americans, the Democratic Party’s most loyal constituency. Four years ago, the first dip in Black voter turnout in 20 years contributed to Democrat Hillary Clinton’s upset loss to Trump.
Biden, whose foundering campaign was rescued by Black voters in South Carolina’s primary in February, needs their strong support against Trump. They will be crucial in battleground states such as Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, where Trump narrowly prevailed in 2016, as well as Republican-leaning southern states like Georgia and Florida that polls show have become competitive this year.
Biden served as vice president for eight years under President Barack Obama, the first Black U.S. president.
Numerous Black leaders, including politicians who had themselves been considered as Biden’s running mate, emphasized the historic import of Harris’ selection.
“To see a Black woman nominated for the first time reaffirms my faith that in America, there is a place for every person to succeed no matter who they are or where they come from,” said U.S. Representative Val Demings, a Black woman who had been a contender.
Obama, perhaps the party’s most popular figure, praised Harris on Twitter: “She’s spent her career defending our Constitution and fighting for folks who need a fair shake.”
The Biden campaign notched its best grassroots fundraising day following the announcement, according to one of its digital directors, Clarke Humphrey.
Republicans immediately tried to portray Harris as a “radical” who embraces far-left priorities such as sweeping police reform and a ban on fracking.