Daily Video

August 12, 2020

Joe Biden chooses Kamala Harris as running mate


Directions: Read the summary, watch the video and answer the discussion questions. To read the transcript, click here

Summary: Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden made his choice for running mate on August 11. Biden chose California Sen. Kamala Harris, who was his opponent in the Democratic primaries. Harris has served as senator since 2017, and before that she was a prosecutor.

  • Harris has listed criminal justice reform as one of her major points of focus, though some critics charge that she offered little change as a reformer when serving as prosecutor in California. In the Senate, Harris has served on the Intelligence and Judiciary committees, among others.
  • Harris is the first Black woman to be selected as a vice presidential candidate on a major party ticket. Her father was raised in Jamaica. Harris, whose mother was born in India, is also the first Asian American vice presidential candidate.
  • Harris will debate Vice President Mike Pence on Wednesday, October 7 in Salt Lake City, UT.

Discussion questions:

  1. Essential question: What do you think are the most important considerations in choosing a vice presidential candidate?
  2. Before becoming a senator representing California in 2011, Harris was California’s attorney general (the state’s chief prosecutor and law enforcement official), and before that the district attorney (a city or county’s chief prosecutor) in San Francisco. How do you think Harris’s experience as a prosecutor will influence her appeal to voters?
    • How do you think Harris’s experience as a prosecutor will influence her actions as vice president if elected?
    • Do you think her time in national office as senator is important? Why or why not?
  3. If elected, Harris would be the first woman to serve as vice president. Why do you think no woman has ever served as president or vice president in the United States?
  4. Harris is the first Democratic candidate on a presidential ticket from a state on the west coast (either for president or vice president). Why do you think such a large geographical area hasn’t yet been represented by a candidate for one major political party?
  5. Media literacy: This news segment profiles Harris’s career and personal history, but it doesn’t closely examine her voting record or the policy positions of her presidential bid. Do you think the media should focus more on candidates’ personal history, career or stated policy goals? Why are each important?
    • If you wanted to find out more about Harris’s voting record and policy positions, where would you got to find out?

Extension activity: How do vice presidential candidates help promote a president’s candidacy? First, have students watch this video of a 1984 vice presidential debate between George H.W. Bush (who was the incumbent vice president at the time), and Geraldine Ferraro, who was the Democratic vice presidential candidate and the first female vice presidential candidate in U.S. history. Then, answer the following question:

  • How did Ferraro’s gender become a point of contention in this moment of the debate?

If there is time: Use this EXTRA lesson plan from the 2016 election, Do presidential debates matter?


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