Aug 12, 2020 - Politics & Policy

3 keys to Joe Biden picking Kamala Harris

Kamala and Joe

Photo: Jeff Kowalsky/AFP via Getty Images

Three quick points about Joe Biden's historic selection of Sen. Kamala (pronounced COMMA-luh) Harris of California as his running mate — and clues they give us to how Biden would govern:

  1. She was always at the top of his list. As I look back through my text threads with top Dems over the past five months, she was always assumed to be the most likely pick.
  • It says something encouraging about these dire times for America that Joe Biden could both make history by naming the first Black and South Asian woman to a major-party U.S. presidential ticket — and fulfill conventional wisdom at the same time.
  • Harris, who'd be the first woman vice president, is a skilled, fearless prosecutor who has been vetted by a presidential campaign and statewide races in the biggest state. He can trust her on the campaign trail from Day 1. Ditto in the West Wing if they win. That's the job.

2. We found out when you did — at 4:14 p.m., when the Biden campaign blast-texted: "Joe Biden here. Big news: I've chosen Kamala Harris as my running mate."

  • With some of the best connected reporters in the land obsessing about the choice, there was no definitive leak, even at the end — something Biden's high command is super-proud of.
  • Amid the chaos and improvisation of the Trump Show, Biden ran an old-school, by-the-book process. His White House would be a similar Return to Normal.

3. Biden's selection process raised the profiles of several other women of color who are now set up to star in a new chapter of American politics: Susan Rice, former U.N. ambassador and national security adviser, was considered one of the final two by Biden confidants, and now is the favorite to be Secretary of State if he wins.

  • Because they were viewed as contenders, think how much more airtime has gone to Georgia's Stacey Abrams, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, Rep. Val Demings of Florida, Rep. Karen Bass of California and Sen. Tammy Duckworth of Illinois.
  • And because Biden had promised to pick a woman, think how much more attention has been paid to Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. And Sen. Elizabeth Warren has stayed in the news.
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