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Why Biden picked ‘fearless fighter’ Kamala Harris as his running mate

Former Vice President Joe Biden has named California Senator Kamala Harris as his running mate in the presidential election. The presumptive Democratic nominee announced his decision in an afternoon email to supporters. Lisa Desjardins joins Judy Woodruff with the latest on how Biden issued the invitation, what Harris brings to the ticket and how her selection represents several historical firsts.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    The wait is over.

    Former Vice President Joe Biden has chosen California Senator Kamala Harris as his vice presidential running mate in the campaign against President Trump.

    The presumptive Democratic nominee announced his decision this afternoon in an e-mail to supporters.

    Our Lisa Desjardins joins me now with the very latest.

    So, Lisa, tell us, remind us who Kamala Harris is. What experience does she bring?

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    First, Judy, truly a pandemic moment, how Vice President Biden told Kamala Harris she was the choice.

    The campaign has sent out this photo of that moment. Of course, it was digital. And you can see the smiling Harris there accepting the offer.

    Judy, Harris is a well-known name, as you said, but let's look specifically at her experience, what we know. Most of her career has been as a prosecutor in law enforcement. She was a district attorney and then attorney general of California, 13 years as a prosecutor.

    Then she ran for the Senate. Three years so far, she has been on Capitol Hill doing that. And, Judy, she is 55 years old. We know that Joe Biden, if elected, would be the oldest president elected. And age is something that we know from his campaign that they were thinking about.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Right. And she is, what, more than 20 years younger than he is.

    So, Lisa, what is known about why Joe Biden settled on her? There were a number of women he was considering.

  • Lisa Desjardins:


    Let's look at what Biden himself said. He tweeted out, calling Harris a fearless fighter. But it is his second tweet that is more interesting to me. He wrote that, in particular, he liked that Harris was a friend, when she was attorney general, with Beau Biden, his son, who passed away from cancer.

    Beau Biden was attorney general of Delaware. And the two worked together, Biden wrote, and that he was proud of her then, and he's proud of her. Judy, that personal connection is important.

    And I think one other insight actually came from your interview one week ago tonight with Jill Biden, who may be the vice president's — the former vice president's most important adviser.

    When you asked her what qualities they were looking for in a running mate, here's what she said.

    I want to quote this. This is interesting.

    She said: "Trust is important to us, experience, wisdom. He needs a partner in governing and someone who knows has to govern and has the experience."

    Really, you know from Biden's history trust and loyalty are critical. And that personal relationship with Harris, I think, really helped her get this job.

    But, Judy, also, she would be the first black woman in the White House. She would be the first — she is already the first Asian American to be on a presidential ballot. She is the daughter of immigrants. So there was a lot of appeal to all of those qualities in her life story as well.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    That's right, her father from Jamaica, her mother from India.

    But, just quickly, Lisa, the Republicans are already coming after her. What are her main drawbacks, as the political experts look at this?

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    Two things.

    One, what her platform was before. They were trying to say that Kamala Harris is to the left of Joe Biden. In fact, the Trump campaign said today that they see her as someone who has embraced the radical left in her drive to be president.

    They point to her Medicare for all universal health care program, which was not the same as Bernie Sanders', but was the left of Joe Biden's. Also, on immigration, for example, she has said she would like to make undocumented immigrants, make that not a criminal offense, but a civil offense.

    So, Republicans will try and cast her as to the left divide of Biden. The other thing they will do is point out when she herself was at odds with Biden. And one of the more vigorous attacks on Biden during the primary, you remember, was from Harris.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    No question about it. And I'm sure we're going to hear a lot about that.

    Lisa, thank you.

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