Kamala Harris Biden’s Running Mate

A choice that's both historic and unsurprising.

The first woman of color to be a major party nominee was also the obvious choice this cycle.

Washington Post (“Sen. Kamala D. Harris named as Joe Biden’s running mate“):

Presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden has chosen Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.) as his running mate, elevating a former presidential candidate whose most electric campaign performance came when she criticized his record on school integration during a debate.

Harris will be the first Black woman and first Asian American to run for vice president, representing a historic choice at a moment when the country is grappling with its racial past and future. The announcement was made in a text and a tweet from Biden.

“Back when Kamala was Attorney General, she worked closely with Beau,” Biden tweeted, referring to his late son, then the attorney general of Delaware. “I watched as they took on the big banks, lifted up working people, and protected women and kids from abuse. I was proud then, and I’m proud now to have her as my partner in this campaign.”

I won’t repeat my arguments for why Harris was the best woman for the job in any detail. But she’s young, smart, and seasoned without enough baggage to make her a lightning rod. As with Barack Obama’s choice to go with Joe Biden in 2008, his first big decision was a strong one.

That she was announced via tweet is a sign of the times.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2020, Joe Biden, Kamala Harris
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Sleeping Dog says:

    The favorite gets picked, where is the fun in that?

    After he committed himself to a woman and Klobuchar withdrew, who I believed he intended to choose. Then it became apparent that it needed to be a minority.

    She checks the qualification boxes, the never trumpers won’t be happy, but who cares. She has demerits as does anyone else who he could have chosen. Congrats Kamala.

    5
  2. Jen says:

    I’m fine with no surprises. 2020 has dealt enough of those, I just want to win in November.

    14
  3. Gustopher says:

    They did a nice fake-out with the schedule they released earlier, where they gave her a speaking spot at the convention.

    That was clever.

    Harris seems fine. No real red flags for me. If Biden dies in office, she would do fine.

    7
  4. CSK says:

    Cult45 is whining that Harris isn’t eligible, given that she’s not a natural-born citizen because her parents were Jamaicans.

    4
  5. sam says:

    Charles P. Pierce @CharlesPPierce
    Mike Pence just got a cold feeling in his balls and doesn’t know why.

    9
  6. EddieInCA says:

    Nailed it.

    10
  7. Monala says:

    @EddieInCA: Virtual drinks to you!

    1
  8. Kylopod says:

    @CSK:

    Cult45 is whining that Harris isn’t a natural-born citizen because her parents were Jamaicans.

    Do they not realize Trump’s mom was an immigrant?

    12
  9. Scott F. says:

    As with Barack Obama’s choice to go with Joe Biden in 2008, his first big decision was a strong one.

    This indeed.

    10
  10. sam says:
  11. MarkedMan says:

    I think it’s a good choice. He needed someone who was tough and could throw some punches.

    I also think by picking a black woman he will have diverted some of the usual Republican slime from him onto her. Cue – Three, Two, One until the Republican machine starts the relentless pitch of “she’s just not likable” and “she’s screechy and doesn’t know her place”. They will also throw in, “He is debasing himself by letting her get too forward and outspoken.” Point is, the Republicans are the party of misogyny and racism, and they will be compelled to spend too much of their time attacking the black woman and crafting the media ready narrative about her. They will convince themselves that she’s Biden’s Palin. But, to paraphrase one of the greatest lines in any presidential debate, “I have met Tina Fey, and Sarah Palin is no Kamala Harris”.

    4
  12. MarkedMan says:

    @Kylopod: Ah, I see your confusion. Trump’s mother was from Scotland, where people tend to be white, and Harris’ parents were from Jamaica where people are black. Does that make it clear?

    16
  13. CSK says:

    @Kylopod:
    Ah, but she was naturalized in 1942, 4 years before Donald’s birth. And…she was a white Protestant.

    Seriously, I hope we don’t have to listen to a lot of bullshit about how Harris isn’t qualified from now until the election.

    3
  14. CSK says:

    @MarkedMan:
    We seem to have been thinking along the same lines.

    1
  15. Moosebreath says:

    @Gustopher:

    “They did a nice fake-out with the schedule they released earlier, where they gave her a speaking spot at the convention.”

    Yep. I was among those fooled.

    I think she’s a good choice. Her experience as prosecutor and Attorney General will be a plus considering Trump wants to run on “law and order”.

    2
  16. MarkedMan says:

    @CSK: As my mother always said, “Great minds think alike. But fools seldom differ.” She never commented on which way she was leaning…

    2
  17. Joe says:

    I could totally see Harris as the President, whether it’s because something bad happens to Biden or she runs in 4 years. I have no fears about her trying to get that job. I expect it. She was not my favorite candidate, but I am perfectly happy with this choice.

    3
  18. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    Well I read the tea-leaves wrong, but no matter.
    I’d vote for a ten day old banana over Trump.

    I cannot wait for the Harris/Pence debates.

    6
  19. MarkedMan says:

    I didn’t engage much in this speculation, as I was confident he would make a solid choice. Plus, the little bit I did see was crazy-making. For instance, a headline about how the African American community was “outraged” because Trump had met with Whitmire and therefore he wasn’t going to pick a black woman. Also, speculation on Rice being the pick because she sold off certain stock. And a seeming raft of articles about how Joe Biden, of all people, could “never forgive” Harris for a swipe she took at him in a frickin’ debate! Like Joe Biden was some neophyte politician whose feelings get hurt when people run against him. On that last one, I suspect it only increased his respect for her as a puncher.

    Also, judging from the headlines, there was an awful lot of harrumphing and “I told you so” over Biden’s inability to make a decision. FWIW, I don’t think it could have been better managed. He kept the public speculation up for several weeks, driving his name into every newscast but with no risk to him. I’m certain a lot of these meetings were so he could do the honorable things in letting the runner’s up know face to face, and do the smart thing because an in person meeting would drive the mentions up all over again.

    7
  20. wr says:

    @CSK: “Seriously, I hope we don’t have to listen to a lot of bullshit about how Harris isn’t qualified from now until the election.”

    We absolutely do not have to listen to this bullshit. Oh, they’re going to be saying it 24/7… but there’s nothing that’s going to make me listen!

    5
  21. MarkedMan says:

    I really hope to god the Republican nut jobs go crazy declaring that Harris is not a citizen and spend all their time on it. I cannot think of anything more helpful to the Biden campaign.

    3
  22. CSK says:

    @wr:
    Do they think if they keep repeating it, it will somehow become true?

  23. the Q says:

    “…….Point is, the Republicans are the party of misogyny and racism, and they will be compelled to spend too much of their time attacking the black woman……”

    If there is one thing we know about the wingnuts, they have a bottomless pit of slime, racism, slander, misogyny and calumny to last several elections and will spew this sludge in every direction and towards each candidate.

    4
  24. Teve says:

    @MarkedMan:

    Like Joe Biden was some neophyte politician whose feelings get hurt when people run against him. On that last one, I suspect it only increased his respect for her as a puncher.

    knowing Joe Biden, born in 1942, it wouldn’t surprise me if his internal reaction was “that dame threw a heater! She’s a spitfire! That gal’s goin places!”

    11
  25. Kathy says:

    @CSK:

    Seriously, I hope we don’t have to listen to a lot of bullshit about how Harris isn’t qualified from now until the election.

    Well, you know how many of his supporters claim Trump the Weak is an “alpha male”? That means he makes a lot of noise and throws s***t, like other apes do.

    4
  26. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @EddieInCA: Nasdrovia!

    1
  27. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @MarkedMan: I think I would have liked your mother.

  28. MarkedMan says:

    @Teve:

    “that dame threw a heater! She’s a spitfire! That gal’s goin places!”

    You sir, win the Internet today…

    4
  29. CSK says:

    Trump gave Harris $6000 in 2011 and again in 2013. Ivanka gave her $2000 in 2014.

    4
  30. MarkedMan says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Thank you. No past tense needed. Still sharp as a tack at 92. And pretty much everyone likes my mother. She is what I would call an everyday saint. Never had a bad word to say about anyone. Although she does laugh out loud at Trump.

  31. CSK says:

    @MarkedMan:
    Your mother appears quite discerning.

    1
  32. Scott F. says:

    @MarkedMan: I was also confident Biden would make a “solid choice” and that’s really the nub of it all for me. If you are running on the promise of a return to normalcy and competence, making the unsurprising choice is exactly on brand.

    2
  33. Michael Reynolds says:

    @EddieInCA:
    You did indeed. You’ve been right on this for months.

    2
  34. Bill says:

    I’m fine with the selection of Harris but I was hoping Biden would pick Demings.

    Harris is a good choice.

    1
  35. Lounsbury says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    never trumpers

    Eh what? They seem perfectly happy – it was a strong solid choice (See Rubin e.g., also the Bulwark: https://thebulwark.com/why-kamala-harris/)

    Harris represents what traditionalists like, maybe not their precise political colour, but for the Never Trumpers, breaking Trump more than anything is the clear organising principal. Harris was the sole solid choice left in play

    7
  36. Lounsbury says:

    @Kylopod: White immigrant so doesn’t count… It’s more than painfully obvious Trumpism is essentially Rump White American racism reactionary/neo-fascist reaction. Combined with the rotted brain-dead corpse of Anglo-American “movement conservatism” as entertainment industry thanks to the detestable Mr Murdoch et Fils Lachlan.

  37. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @MarkedMan: I’m glad she’s still around to skewer you when necessary. My mother always said, “If you don’t say anything nice about someone than say nothing at all!” To say the least, I haven’t always succeed at that.

  38. CSK says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:
    I like “If you can’t say anything nice about anyone, come sit right here next to me.”

  39. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @CSK: On the Group W bench, right?

    1
  40. Lounsbury says:

    Well I have just read she’s married to a white Jewish American (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Douglas_Emhoff), never realised. Not that it has fundamental importance, but should be useful visual to make it rather harder for the Trumpists to smear her as anti-White etc. (of course the hard core racists this will drive even more batty)

  41. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @Teve: “I like a feisty broad!”

    BTW…my Bay Area relatives hate Kamala Harris because of her time as prosecutor.

    1
  42. SKI says:

    @Lounsbury: two things:

    1. The Republican Jewish Committee already has come out claiming she “does no5 stand with Israel or the Jewish community”. Facts and reality be dammed.

    2. Can you imagine the deplorables losing their mind about her background + marriage. lol

    1
  43. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @Bill: She was my favorite choice as well but had no chance. The Harris pick is a signal to White people not Black people. There is a reason she got very little traction with the Black Community as the Headliner in her own campaign: 1) she was not immersed in black culture growing up and lacks the natural charisma to connect to the Black everyman or everywoman. Almost everyone I’ve met that grew up in California and it wasn’t in/near L.A. or in/near Oakland–came across a little “Carlton-y”. Hell, the times I’ve visited Cali outside of those area–I felt a little exotic.
    2) Although she went to Howard, a historic Black University–it is a little upper crust-ish as far as who sends their kids there. The HBCU I attended had alot of students that were the first in their family to EVER go to college. Not so with Howard.
    3) Someone pointed out that she pledged a black female sorority–yes—my wife pledged the same sorority so have several other family member. But this sorority has a reputation for exclusivity and “snootiness”–they are the sorority of Ginger–not MaryAnne. Of course, the only reason my wife relaxed her standards to marry me is because I’m a silver-tongued devil and women like that have a weakness for bad boys.

    TL&DR–she’ll do fine. The facebook snap poll of family members is moderate excitement. She won’t come close to being viewed in the same light as Michelle O, (who isn’t snooty and married a black man)–but shell be good in the VP role.

    6
  44. Kari Q says:

    I thought we were all expecting it, but it seems the Black people I know were completely on edge before and super excited after. I give props to Biden’s team for somehow making the expected action exciting yet not scary.

    Lack of engagement in the Black community is a big part of why Hillary lost in 2016, so this pick is going to help Biden in Michigan. Any other candidate I’d say “and Pennsylvania” but I don’t see Pennsylvania’s third senator losing that state.

    Indian (Asian) Americans are a much smaller group, but there’s a lot of enthusiasm for her there too. Wisconsin’s population is 2% Asian. Trump won by less than 1%.

    I am, of course, way overthinking this. More important that the demographics is the fact that Harris is a solid choice who will make a good president, but she definitely adds excitement to the ticket.

    1
  45. Sleeping Dog says:

    @Jim Brown 32:

    Looking from the outside and with really no insight into what members of the AA community are thinking, so tell me if I’m full of doo. Harris may not have been their preferred choice, but now that she will be the nominee, people will get on board her bandwagon. IIRC, the AA community was slow to warm to Obama, till he proved that he could compete in the Dem primary and then they joined him whole heartedly

    2
  46. Teve says:

    The Biden Harris merch store has crashed. That’s a good sign.

    4
  47. Kari Q says:

    @Jim Brown 32:

    There is a reason she got very little traction with the Black Community as the Headliner in her own campaign

    The reasons are more simple: She didn’t reach out to Black voters aggressively; voters were concerned that voters in the general election wouldn’t vote for a Black woman, which made Biden a safer choice; and Biden was Obama’s VP. That last is a big factor for a lot of Black voters, bigger than I would have expected. The Obama connection is a powerful one for the average Black voter who may not be all that ideologically driven or don’t follow politics closely.

    The other things you talk about are factors, but nothing that would have stopped them from voting for her if Biden wasn’t in the race.

    Biden felt like a safer choice, and given the chaos of the last few years, safe was stronger than breakthrough.

    5
  48. grumpy realist says:

    Yup, it’s gonna be the Birthers, Round II. Will we hear from Orly Taitz again?

    1
  49. Teve says:

    @GoAngelo

    Gotta appreciate @benshapiro floating the idea that Harris may kill Biden in order to ascend to the presidency.

    Not only because it’s just an insane escalation to float the idea that she’d casually murder someone, but because he basically presumes Biden and Harris win.

  50. MarkedMan says:

    @Jim Brown 32: If you want support from people they have to believe you will represent them and I think that drives us from extremes. Trump is an exception, but he really is a black swan. 99 times out of 100 a politician who is too much of anything has a tough time outside their home base. I always think obviously NYC based politicians (Giuliani, Bloomberg, DiBlasio come to mind) are kidding themselves (and more of them will be encouraged to do so now that Trump has been successful). As are the overly played good ol’ boys that were successful in parts of Georgia and Louisiana when I lived there. And the Marianne Williamson types, well who can picture her understanding the lot of a family in Oklahoma with one person working oil drilling and another working at a feedlot?

    1
  51. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @Sleeping Dog: My memory was that everyone loved Obama–from the getgo. Starting from his convention speech in 2004. We just didn’t think white people would vote for him…once that became clear it was all gravy. Obama can go into any room with any group of black people–in any region–of any tax bracket– and fit right in. Frankly, Bill Clinton is the same way.

    The most common comment Im seeing in my (informal, yes) FB timeline is that she’s better than Pence. Don’t get me wrong–Black people will walk over burning coals to vote against Donald Trump. But I think her weaknesses come back into play 2024 when Biden vacates the seat (should he win in November) and she’s looking to be the Headliner. I would not be surprised to see someone else get the nod as the Democratic candidate

    2
  52. Jen says:

    @Teve: I read that ActBlue processed $6million in donations in the two hours after the announcement. If true, NICE.

    1
  53. Teve says:

    @MarkedMan:

    And the Marianne Williamson types, well who can picture her understanding the lot of a family in Oklahoma with one person working oil drilling and another working at a feedlot?

    Do you know what the real tragedy here is? Their misaligned chakras.

    6
  54. Teve says:

    @Jen: it’s been verified.

    I bet Pence’s doctors just had to give him Lorazepam.

    2
  55. An Interested Party says:

    Did you know that Kamala is to the left of Sanders and Warren!? Oh noes! If this is the best they can do on the right, she should have no problem helping this ticket to victory…

  56. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @MarkedMan: I agree–but I would assume that if one had designs on National office–they’d put the time into their Craft. I would. I guess that’s really an indictment of the type of people that seek to go into politics more than anything else. It’s not a huge investment in time to learn people–but one has to put in the time.

    I once bought a purebred puppy from a white couple in the Texas hillcountry about 50 miles outside of San Antonio. I shit you not–Elvis memorabilia was on the walls. The woman wanted to be sure her baby was going to a good home so I had to come in the house and “set a spell”. Now these people were racist as the day is long–but they were polite. Because I’d lived in Mississippi–I drew on my rural white people experience and left there with my puppy about 90 minutes later after having yukked it up with them. It didn’t take me long to diagnose what type of humor and conversation resonated with them. I felt like I was probably one of the few black people they ever got to “visit with” and wanted to leave them with a favorable impression.

    People running for the highest offices in the land should be able, if nothing else, to relate to people across the country. Doesn’t have to be Obama level–but something believable yet authentic.

    4
  57. An Interested Party says:

    Of course they are replaying her questioning of both Barr and Kavanaugh…wow, they both really look quite stupid and dazed trying to respond to her questions…

    1
  58. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Kylopod:

    Do they not realize Trump’s mom was an immigrant?

    That’s completely different and you know it. Trump’s mom was from Ireland Scotland [oops 🙁 ]. Everybody knows that Ireland Scotland isn’t a foreign country!

    2
  59. Teve says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: my grandmother, a white woman from Kentucky who grew up in the depression and was a woman of her time, used to refer to Asian people as Chinese-looking, Hispanic people as Mexican-looking, and Caucasian people as American-looking.

    1
  60. Teve says:

    A friend of mine: “You know why Republicans aren’t doing anything to stop evictions? Because that’s millions of people whose mail in votes won’t have the correct address now.”

    2
  61. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Teve: Known several people who thought/talked like that.

    @Teve: Ouchies!

  62. Teve says:

    @StephenAtHome

    Thank god it’s Kamala! I was worried Biden was going to pick someone else who would have made me absolutely still vote for him no matter what.

    3
  63. Lounsbury says:

    @Jim Brown 32: Your memory is whitewashing – in 2008 there was no lack of Obama-is-not-authentic-African-American commentary from the usual perpetually dissatisfied commentariat.

    The past always in retrospect seems simpler than it actually was.

  64. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    Like any other political constituency, this one is complex and its members will react in different ways dependent on their own priorities. I have no doubt that some are pleased, as Kari notes.

    Others, less so. It’s just anecdotal, but the swath of African American friends on my Facebook are pretty busily sharing / discussing pieces like Lara Bazelon’s murderous takedown in the NYT of Harris’s legal career and saying a variety of less than nice things about her which seem to amount to “she thinks she’s white”. It’s safe to say they are less than fond of her.

    I remain convinced that she wasn’t the best choice, that selecting her over Bass was a mistake, but the die is cast now. That ship has sailed.

    1
  65. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    Checking in to this conversation late…but bottom line…from what we have seen so far Trump has no idea how to run against Harris (or Biden for that matter)

  66. wr says:

    @Lounsbury: “in 2008 there was no lack of Obama-is-not-authentic-African-American commentary from the usual perpetually dissatisfied commentariat.”

    Yes there was. All those nasty liberals like Rush Limbaugh calling him a “halfrican.” Man liberals like Rush and Hannity really suck.

    2
  67. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @Lounsbury: In the very, very beginning perhaps…but only because the expectation of AAs from AA politicians at that level is…they aren’t authentic. Michelle O, and frankly Reverend Wright changed all that. Everyone in the Community has several relatives and/or friends that Michelle O reminds them of. And Reverend Wright, is the prototypical AA Pastor. You dont marry a Michelle O and have Rev Wright as your Pastor if you aint down with “US”

    Harris is missing a couple of key pieces of cultural jewelry that are going to prevent people from going all in. Who knows? In this new role she just could surprises us all. Maybe she can channel her inner “Helen”(of the Jeffersons)

    1
  68. Kylopod says:

    @Lounsbury: @wr: @Jim Brown 32: While I did here a little of the “he’s not black enough” from a few AA lefties like Tavis Smiley and Cornel West, I don’t think this was at all common. In fact he was (and remains) extremely popular in the AA community overall.

    1
  69. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @Kylopod: Walk into 10 AA houses, you will find Obama on the wall in 5 of them. If its an over 60 household its 9/10. He’ll be right next to MLK

    3
  70. SKI says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    Others, less so. It’s just anecdotal, but the swath of African American friends on my Facebook are pretty busily sharing / discussing pieces like Lara Bazelon’s murderous takedown in the NYT of Harris’s legal career and saying a variety of less than nice things about her which seem to amount to “she thinks she’s white”. It’s safe to say they are less than fond of her.

    And others are pushing Niki Solis’s piece stating Harris was “the most progressive DA in California”.

    The reality is, as Jamiles Lamarty notes, and you will surely concede, “it’s very easy to present a very good or very bad narrative for ANY prosecutor, given the nature of the work, using cherry-picked data and anecdotes.”

  71. Blue Galangal says:

    I’m also happy that we have two people on the ticket with significant DC experience compared to a failed con-man and a corn state governor. Biden and Harris both have senatorial experience in addition to everything else on their resumes, and that means they will understand the fundamentals of our federal government.