‘Her story is America’s story’: Biden and Harris present united front at first event togetherAugust 13, 2020
In their first public appearance as running mates, Joe Biden lauded Kamala Harris on Wednesday as the child of “America’s story” who fought for the working class and was ready to take on their opponents in a “life-changing election.” Harris presented Biden as a selfless leader ready to take on President Donald Trump in November.
The presumptive Democratic nominees made their debut in the gymnasium at Alexis I. DuPont High School in Wilmington, Del., where the former vice president touted Harris’ history as a senator and attorney general of California as a foil to the actions of Trump. Harris decried the president as a neglectful leader and pushed the Democratic ticket’s policy objectives, from fighting climate change to expanding affordable health care.
It was their first in-person event after Harris publicly announced she was joining Biden’s ticket on Tuesday evening, becoming the first Black and Asian American woman to be named a vice presidential candidate of a major political party.
Though Harris and Biden struck a largely optimistic tone at the rally, they framed the upcoming presidential election as an existential question on the nature of the country’s future. And hints of the crises weighing on the nation hung in the room — applause was largely absent as the audience was limited and spaced out because of the coronavirus pandemic. The candidates entered the gym wearing blue suits punctuated by dark face masks.
“We need more than a victory on Nov. 3,” Harris said. “We need a mandate that proves that the past few years do not represent who we are or who we aspire to be. Joe likes to say that character is on the ballot. And it’s true.”
Biden opened by lauding Harris’ experience as the attorney general of the country’s largest state and a member of the Senate Judiciary and Intelligence committees. He praised her as “smart” and “tough,” citing her fights against large banks and the gun lobby and her support for marriage equality. Biden also said that Harris’ background, as the daughter of immigrants from India and Jamaica, was “America’s story.”
“This morning, all across a nation, little girls woke up, especially little Black and brown girls,” Biden said. “Just maybe they’re seeing themselves for the first time in a new way, as the stuff of presidents and vice president.”
Biden contrasted Harris with Trump, who he said whines better than any other president in history. Harris also characterized Trump as a threat that needed to be neutralized in the election, pinning on him the nation’s management of the coronavirus pandemic, the ensuing economic crisis and a reckoning on race that has rocked the nation.
“But here’s the good news,” she said. “We don’t have to accept the failed government of Donald Trump and Mike Pence. In just 83 days, we have a chance to choose a better future for our country.”
Both Harris and Biden acknowledged the crowded Democratic primary, in which both of them clashed on the debate stage. They also touched on the feverish speculation leading up to Biden’s selection of a running mate, with names like Susan Rice, Karen Bass and Elizabeth Warren floating for months.
But they spoke past their past differences. Biden said he wanted Harris to “always tell me the truth, which she will, challenge my assumptions if she disagrees, ask the hard questions.”
They also spoke on the ties between Harris and the Biden family. Citing Harris’ friendship with his late son Beau Biden, who served as attorney general of Delaware, the former vice president said: “Kamala, you’ve been an honorary Biden for quite some time.”