How Kamala Harris’ close friendship with Joe Biden’s son Beau paved the way to VP choice

She served as California's attorney general while the younger Mr Biden worked as Delaware's attorney general 

Danielle Zoellner
New York
Tuesday 11 August 2020 23:14 BST
Kamala Harris endorses Joe Biden for president

At a time when Kamala Harris was a rising star in the Democratic party as California’s first female and person of colour attorney general, she found a friendship in Joe Biden‘s son Beau Biden.

The younger Mr Biden served as Delaware’s attorney general from 2007 to 2015 before stepping down at the end of his term in office. He later died at the age of 46 from brain cancer on 30 May, 2015.

Ms Harris would step into her role as California attorney general in 2011, a position she would hold until she was elected into the US Senate in 2016.

During her time as attorney general, she found a camaraderie with the younger Mr Biden, as they would strategize together on cases and compare notes. Former aides of the two camps told the Associated Press that the pair used each other as sounding boards, and even their staff formed close relationships with each other.

When there were negotiations with banks during the foreclosure crisis, one former Ms Harris aide told the Associated Press she talked or texted with the younger Mr Biden daily.

This all happened as they both looked towards their political futures within the Democratic party before the younger Mr Biden would receive his cancer diagnosis.

In 2019, on the fourth anniversary of the younger Mr Biden’s death, Ms Harris honoured her former colleague all while competing in the presidential election against her friend’s father, the former vice president.

“Thinking of @JoeBiden, @DrBiden and the entire Biden family today,” Ms Harris wrote on Twitter while sharing a picture of herself with her colleague.

“Beau Biden was my friend. We were AGs together, and you couldn’t find a person who cared more deeply for his family, the nation he served, and the state of Delaware. Four years after his passing, I still miss him.”

The elder Mr Biden thanked Ms Harris for her kind words at the time about her son, solidifying the bond between the two families.

“Thank you @KamalaHarris from me, Jill, & all the Bidens for your kind remembrance of Beau today. My dad used to say that you know you are a success as a parent when you turn & look at your child & realise they turned out better than you -- I’m so proud of the man Beau became,” he wrote.

The connection formed between Ms Harris and the younger Mr Biden also laid the foundation for her partnership with his father. The elder Mr Biden went on to endorse her during her 2016 Senate bid.

When speaking at the California Democratic Party’s convention in 2016, Ms Harris mentioned the Biden family and said they “truly represent our nation’s highest ideals, a powerful belief in the nobility of public service.”

She went on to praise the elder Mr Biden, stating he “has given so much to our country and on top of everything he has accomplished, he gave to us my dear friend, Beau.”

But their relationship hit a rough patch when the pair was competing against each other in the 2020 presidential election.

During a Democratic debate, Ms Harris brought up the elder Mr Biden’s history in the Senate back in the 1970s regarding busing and other segregationist policies.

“There was a little girl in California who was part of the second class to integrate her public schools, and she was bused to school every day. And that little girl was me,” Ms Harris said during the debate while targeting Mr Biden for his role in opposing mandatory busing.

This was Ms Harris and Mr Biden’s most contentious moment during the presidential campaign.

At the time, reports indicated members of the Biden campaign were shocked to see hits coming from the Harris campaign. But all the animosity that potentially formed between the two camps dissipated after Ms Harris dropped out of the race and endorsed the former vice president.

“I don’t hold grudges. I’ve made it really clear that I don’t hold grudges. I think it was a debate, it was as simple as that,” he said in a recent interview.

Mr Biden said he wanted a vice president who he could have a similar relationship with that he had with President Barack Obama, and he just potentially found that with Ms Harris as a longtime friend of the family.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in