By choosing Kamala Harris, Joe Biden just torpedoed Trump’s top election tactic

Choosing the trailblazing prosecutor will only serve to reinforce many voters’ opinions about Biden being better equipped to deal with issues of law and order than the current president

Chris Riotta
New York
Wednesday 12 August 2020 13:12
Joe Biden selects California Senator Kamala Harris as running mate

Not even Donald Trump could twist this one.

When Joe Biden announced Senator Kamala Harris as his running mate, the former vice president celebrated her tenure as attorney general of California, a record he said he was “proud” of in a statement released on Tuesday afternoon.

Moments later, the Trump campaign was out with its own statement, attacking Harris with her apparent new nickname, “Phony Kamala”, while claiming she would “bury her record as a prosecutor, in order to appease the anti-police extremists controlling the Democrat Party”.

The president’s statement made it clear that his campaign did not read Biden’s full announcement, and was rather hoping the presumptive Democratic nominee would stay silent when it came to Harris’ prosecutorial career.

Instead, the Biden campaign was clearly intent on celebrating her record from the off.

Throughout his re-election bid, Trump has cast himself as the “law and order” candidate – despite violent clashes erupting under his administration in cities across the country and disturbing scenes of a secretive police force – as Democrats were quick to label it – targeting activist demonstrations in Portland.

The American people weren’t buying his campaign strategy to begin with. A recent Washington Post/ABC News poll showed a majority of US adults supported Biden over Trump when it came to handling national issues like crime and safety, as well as race relations and the coronavirus pandemic. A Pew Research Center survey also showed 46 percent of respondents choosing the former vice president to “effectively handle law enforcement and criminal justice issues” compared to 43 percent who chose the president.

By choosing Harris as his running mate, Biden undermined Trump’s biggest goal: to position himself as the only leader capable of restoring justice and peace to the country.

None of this is to say that Harris has a flawless record when it comes to criminal justice: the senator’s prosecutorial career was the subject of intense scrutiny during her own presidential campaign, with some refuting her claims of being a “progressive” prosecutor.

In past interviews with The Independent, however, law experts and attorneys who worked with Harris over the years described her prosecutorial vision as “forward-minded”, with the Sentencing Project saying in a statement: “Senator Harris has been a strong voice for broad criminal justice reform, both in her work on the Judiciary Committee and in her public engagements. This has included most notably advocacy for reform of the harsh mandatory sentencing provisions that apply to many federal drug offences.”

Pundits will surely debate the progressiveness of her career over the weeks and months to come. Yet Biden has only further reinforced his positioning in many voters’ eyes on issues of law and order by choosing Harris, often considered a trailblazing prosecutor who served as the first African-American and first woman to serve as California’s attorney general, before now becoming the first African-American woman and person of Indian descent to join a major party ticket.

The Biden campaign has put a shot across Trump’s bows. Now, we’re off to the races.

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