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In debut as running mates, Biden and Harris share vision for defeating Trump

Former Vice President Joe Biden and California Sen. Kamala Harris hit the campaign trail Wednesday afternoon. At a joint appearance in Wilmington, Delaware, the two took the stage in front of reporters, but no supporters, to share their vision for defeating President Trump. Lisa Desjardins and Daniel Bush join Judy Woodruff to discuss the messaging and the delivery for this groundbreaking ticket.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    And Lisa joins me now, along with the "NewsHour"'s Daniel Bush, who's been on the ground in Wilmington today reporting on the Biden-Harris event.

    So, Dan, to you first. You did get this up-close look at what is going on there. Did you get a sense of what this — what these two are going to be like as they try to appeal to American voters as a team?

  • Daniel Bush:

    Well, Judy, this was their kickoff, their first opportunity to appear on stage together. They did seem comfortable.

    But, of course, the signs of COVID where everywhere, COVID-19. They both wore masks. They kept their distance. Harris delivered all the traditional notes of a running mate, talking about her backstory, praising Biden and, of course, going after President Trump.

    It's going to be interesting to see how the campaign proceeds from here. The campaign right now is being tight-lipped about how it is that they are going to use Kamala Harris in the days ahead. We know that, right now, they just left for a fund-raiser at a hotel nearby, a virtual fund-raiser.

    Now, Harris is a dynamic public speaker. She did struggle a bit at times in her campaign last year. It will be interesting to see, Judy, how it is that she campaigns in this new virtual — virtual reality that we are in.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And, Lisa, from watching this up close, are you getting any sense of how they're going to try to — what is their message? How are they going to try to appeal to voters?

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    Yes, I have covered both of these people in the U.S. Senate, Biden and Harris.

    And I think what we saw tonight, Judy, was a one-two punch. Biden was the one who was giving out a bigger message. That was of identity. He went straight to President Trump and charged that Trump is distorting the American identity as one that is about even prejudice.

    He talked about Charlottesville. Today is the third anniversary of what happened in Charlottesville. Biden said that was inspiration for him. He said their campaign is about all ideologies and creating an American identity that is full of possibilities and diversity.

    Now, Harris followed that up with her own personal story, as Dan said. And that is one of diversity. It's compelling. She also did her job and talked about why she thinks her boss is the best man for it.

    One other note, Judy, though, these are two people who are not scared to show emotion. We saw that today. And they are both expressing what they see as the urgency of this election. They want their voters to be highly motivated.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    So, Dan, we know, coming up to this choice, there was a lot of speculation about whether the pick that Vice President Biden made would excite the Democratic base.

    And you have had a chance today to talk to some voters who physically showed up around the high school there in Wilmington. And you talked to some of them. What are they saying?

  • Daniel Bush:

    Well, Judy, I should note, this is, of course, home turf, home territory for Biden. We are not very far away from his home, where he has been spending most of his time during the pandemic, so a lot of Democrats.

    I spoke to several people who were excited about his pick of Harris, noting the historic nature of it. One woman said that the moment that she got the text message that the campaign put out to supporters with the choice, she went online, downloaded an image of the Biden logo, an image of Harris' name, put them together, and she was with her homemade sign today.

    So, a lot of support and enthusiasm on the Democratic side. There were, however, Judy, some protesters here, in particular, who oppose Joe Biden's view on abortion, as well as some Trump supporters who were walking around just a minute ago behind me waving Trump signs.

    So, already, we're seeing sort of the divides that are going to play out from here through Election Day.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Yes, certainly making their message heard.

    Lisa, back to you.

    You have been watching Kamala Harris. You watched her campaign when she was running herself. What did you learn, what did we learn, do you think, during that time about the voters she appeals to that may tell us something about the kind of appeal she's going to have right now?

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    I love looking at these kinds of numbers and see what they tell us.

    And when you look at Kamala Harris as a candidate for president, last summer, when she was at her peak, her appeal, Judy, was mostly broad. Her largest group that she was appealing to in July, when she was at her peak, were people who said they were paying close attention to the campaign.

    One reason for that might be that she had that viral moment with Vice President Biden, when she went after him on stage. She saw her biggest bounce from that debate performance. That is something the Biden campaign may like in the matchup against Vice President Pence.

    But, Judy, overall, her appeal was broad. And that is one reason she might not have advanced farther. She didn't have any niche of core voters that was really to push her ahead. That is also something maybe the Biden campaign likes in a vice presidential candidate. She appeals to many different kinds of people.

    One other note, Judy, a little bit off-topic, but I looked into the high school that this appearance was at today, Alexis Dupont High School in Wilmington or Greenville, Delaware. And it's fascinating, Judy. This is a high school that was part of a school district in the 1970s which sued to try and keep some aggregation going, as the court saw it.

    This is a high school she likely could not have attended, but yet, today, this is where Kamala Harris became the first Black woman to be a vice presidential nominee or any nominee on a presidential ticket for a major party.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    So interesting, that part of history, which, of course, came up in the debates, and it's going to continue, I'm sure, to come up.

    Well, it certainly was a rollout like no other we have seen, a nominee bringing his running mate, and you didn't see the hands raised together or anything like what we have seen. But that's the world we live in.

    Daniel Bush there in Wilmington, Lisa Desjardins here, thank you.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    You're welcome.

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