WASHINGTON (NBC News/KFOR) – Joe Biden has selected California Senator Kamala Harris, a former prosecutor who has built a distinguished political career with many barrier-breaking moments, as his running mate, his campaign announced on Tuesday.
Harris was also a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, and over a year ago she clashed with Biden, who served as President Barack Obama’s vice president, over racial issues during the first primary debate. If the Biden/Harris ticket wins the presidential election, she will be the nation’s first female, first Black and first Asian American vice president.
Harris, who is 55, also brings generational diversity to the ticket. If Biden, who is 77, wins the presidency, he will be the oldest president-elect in U.S. history.
Harris is the only Black woman in the U.S. Senate. She won her Senate seat in 2016, but previously gained prominence as California’s Attorney General and, before that, San Francisco District Attorney.
An Oakland, Calif., native, Harris is the child of Jamaican and Indian immigrants. She said participating in civil rights protests with her parents inspired her to join law school.
“She’s been a fighter and a principled leader and I know because I’ve seen her up close and I’ve seen her in the trenches,” Biden said of Harris at a virtual fundraiser in June.
Harris, when she was California’s attorney general, worked closely with Biden’s late son, Beau Biden, when he was Delaware’s attorney general. Harris and Beau Biden challenged big banks in the wake of the housing crisis. Harris said in her book, ‘The Truths We Hold: An American Journey,’ that she and Beau Biden “talked every day, sometimes multiple times a day.”
Harris’ criticism of Joe Biden during the first Democratic primary debate – for his record on busing and working with segregationists – was a shock to the former vice president, his family and his campaign.
“I was prepared for them to come after me, but I wasn’t prepared for the person coming at me the way she came at me. She knew Beau, she knows me,” Biden said in an interview later that summer. Harris, he said, “mischaracterized” his position.
Biden’s wife Jill, as recently as March, spoke about Harris’ surprising attack.
“Our son Beau spoke so highly of her and, you know, and how great she was. And not that she isn’t. I’m not saying that. But it was just like a punch to the gut. It was a little unexpected,” Jill Biden said during a virtual fundraiser.
Harris dropped out of the presidential primary on Dec. 3. She has fully supported the Biden campaign in the months after her primary exit, frequently campaigning virtually for Biden, holding joint fundraisers with the candidate and roundtables around issues like the racial disparities in coronavirus cases and protecting the Affordable Care Act. She raised $3.5 million for the campaign in a June virtual fundraiser.
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