Joe Biden's notes seen to list Kamala Harris' qualities ahead of VP announcement

Race to be Democrats' VP pick played out in public

Andrew Naughtie
Wednesday 29 July 2020 11:28
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Joe Biden discusses his choice of Vice President

Joe Biden has been photographed carrying notes listing the positive qualities of California senator and previous presidential candidate Kamala Harris – just days before he is expected to announce his choice of running mate.

Mr Biden was spotted carrying the handwritten list at a speech and press conference in Wilmington, Delaware, where he addressed the future of the post-pandemic economy.

Among the talking points were five key messages: “Do not hold grudges,” “Campaigned with me & Jill,” “Talented,” “Great help to campaign,” and “Great respect for her.”

Asked by a reporter at the press conference how many “finalists” there are in the selection process and whether he will be able to talk to them in the flesh, Mr Biden smiled.

“I’m trying to figure out how I can trick you all so I can meet with them in person. You’ve got crews outside my house. I don’t think it matters, actually.

“What I said was I’m going to have a choice in the first week in August, and I promise I’ll let you know when I do.”

Pressed further, he demurred – declining even to say whether he and his prospective second-in-command would be tested for Covid-19 before meeting.

A former attorney general of California and now a senator, Ms Harris reached an early peak in the Democratic primary debates in 2019 before ebbing down in the polls and dropping out before the first primaries.

She has been considered a leading contender for the vice presidential nomination at least since she suspended her own campaign. She has steadily shored up substantial public respect as a leading Congressional opponent of the Trump administration, and since the death of George Floyd, she has become a champion of legislation against police brutality.

However, despite Mr Biden’s commitment to choosing a female candidate and the pressure on him to choose a woman of colour, Ms Harris is not a popular choice among all democrats. Her record as a prosecutor, district attorney and attorney general does not sit well with many progressives, who accuse her of having pandered to law-and-order conservatives at the expense of many defendants.

Mr Biden’s notes on Ms Harris’s qualities reflect not only the well-known fact that she has been vetted for the job of running mate, but that she famously challenged him head-on in a 2019 debate for having worked with segregationist senators and for opposing the integration of schools via busing.

Among other candidates regularly mentioned for the running mate slot include Massachusetts senator and previous candidate Elizabeth Warren, representatives Karen Bass and Val Demings, and senators Tammy Baldwin and Tammy Duckworth. Many observers have also lately elevated former national security adviser Susan Rice to the top of their lists, citing her close relationship with Mr Biden after their years in the Obama administration.

Mr Biden is currently polling well ahead of Mr Trump nationally, as he has been for several weeks. He is also leading the president in several crucial swing states, and even challenging him strongly in Republican stronghold states like Texas and Georgia.

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