No crowd as Biden introduces VP choice Harris

No crowd as Biden introduces VP choice Harris

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

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WILMINGTON, Delaware (AP) — Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his newly chosen running mate Kamala Harris campaigned together for the first time today, as the former primary rivals sought to solidify their advantage over President Donald Trump and secure their place in American history.

Biden, a 77-year-old white man, embraced the significance of naming the first Black woman to a major party's presidential ticket, but he focused on other attributes Harris brings to the ticket. He hailed the California senator, the 55-year-old former prosecutor who a year ago excoriated Biden on a primary debate stage, as the right woman to help him defeat Trump and then lead a nation facing crises in triplicate: a pandemic, a wounded economy and a long-simmering reckoning with systemic racism.

Harris, Biden said at a high school gymnasium in his hometown of Wilmington, Delaware, is "smart, she's tough, she's experienced, she's a proven fighter for the backbone of this country."

"Kamala knows how to govern. She knows how to make the hard calls. She's ready to do this job on day one," he continued.

Biden spoke of her experience questioning Trump administration officials in the Senate, and highlighted the historic nature of her pick, noting she's the daughter of immigrants from India and Jamaica.

"This morning, all across the nation, little girls woke up - especially little black and brown girls, who so often feel overlooked and undervalued in their communities. But today, today, just maybe, they're seeing themselves for the first time in a new way," Biden said.

Harris sat feet away from Biden, listening with her mask off.

Taking the stage after him, Harris said she was "mindful of all the ambitious women before me, whose sacrifice, determination and resilience makes my presence here today even possible." She then launched into an attack on Trump, lambasting him for a lack of leadership on the coronavirus pandemic.

"This is a moment of real consequence for America. Everything we care about — our economy, our health, our children, the kind of country we live in — it's all on the line," she said.

A momentous candidacy aside, the surreal nature of the scene was not only a woman of colour stepping into the role of would-be national executive but doing so in a mostly empty high school gym. Masked reporters nearly outnumbered campaign aides and the candidates' family members in a grim reminder of a coronavirus pandemic that has killed 165,000 Americans, while yielding Depression-level unemployment and World War II-level national deficits.

In any other presidential election, vice-presidential picks are greeted with adoring throngs, and Harris, given her profile, almost certainly could have expected an even more enthusiastic welcome to the ticket.

About 100 supporters stood outside the gymnasium waving signs prior to her arrival, with no hopes of being allowed inside.

The event was the first in a rollout that Biden aides say blends the historic nature of Harris' selection with the realities of the 2020 campaign and the gravity of the nation's circumstances. The pair was expected to lead an online grassroots fundraiser later in the day; and will continue campaigning together though Democrats' virtual convention that runs next Monday through Thursday.


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