01:58 GMT14 August 2020
Listen Live
    US
    Get short URL
    by
    12114
    Subscribe

    Kamala Harris, a California senator, is heavily tipped to be unveiled as Joe Biden’s running mate. But who is she and what sort of Vice President, or even President, would she be?

    If Joe Biden chooses Kamala Harris to be his running mate in the fall, and if he wins, she would be the first black woman to be Vice President.

    Were Biden to win the US presidential election in November he would be 78 by the time of his inauguration and 82 by the time he left the White House.

    So Harris, 55, is in a good position to become President in 2024, if not before.

    But who is she and what does she bring to the table?

    Joe Biden's notes, which annotate Kamala Harris's best points at the top
    © AP Photo /
    Joe Biden's notes, which annotate Kamala Harris's best points at the top

    As Biden took questions from reporters on Tuesday, 28 July, a photographer snapped a picture of his notes, which had Kamala Harris's name written prominently and listed five talking points.

    So let's look at those talking points and what they say about Harris.

    "Do Not Hold Grudges”

    The campaign to win the Democratic Party’s nomination was a bruising battle and Kamala Harris exchanged verbal punches with Biden but it seems as if both are willing to let bygones be bygones.

    Former Senator Chris Dodd, from Connecticut, told the AP news agency that the way Harris took him on during one of the televised debates last year still rankles with Biden.

    FILE PHOTO: Former Vice President Joe Biden speaks as South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Senator Bernie Sanders, Senator Elizabeth Warren and Senator Kamala Harris listen during the 2020 Democratic U.S. presidential debate in Houston, Texas, U.S., September 12, 2019
    © AP Photo / Mike Blake
    FILE PHOTO: Former Vice President Joe Biden speaks as South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Senator Bernie Sanders, Senator Elizabeth Warren and Senator Kamala Harris listen during the 2020 Democratic U.S. presidential debate in Houston, Texas, U.S., September 12, 2019

    Dodd, a close friend of Biden’s, said Harris made "very hurtful" comments about the former Vice President’s past work with segregationist senators and also highlighted how he had once opposed busing black children to white areas when schools integrated in the 1970s.

    She said: “There was a little girl in California who was a part of the second class to integrate her public schools, and she was bused to school every day and that little girl was me.''

    Biden said at the time her comments were “a mischaracterisation of my position'' and the pair seem to get on well in public now.

    "Campaigned With Me & Jill"

    Harris’s own campaign was a bit of a disaster but she is seen as being an asset to Biden’s bid for power.

    When her operations director, Kelly Mehlenbacher, quit in November he wrote a letter, which was leaked to the New York Times, in which he said: "This is my third presidential campaign and I have never seen an organization treat its staff so poorly."

    Harris’s campaign started off well - she was raising US$12 million a month in early 2019 and riding high in the polls - but as her numbers dropped so did her ability to raise funds and that was ultimately why she quit in December.

    Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden, accompanied by his wife Jill Biden, speaks at a primary night election rally in Columbia, S.C., Saturday, Feb. 29, 2020.
    © AP Photo / Gerald Herbert
    Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden, accompanied by his wife Jill Biden, speaks at a primary night election rally in Columbia, S.C., Saturday, Feb. 29, 2020.

    Harris, a moderate, endorsed Biden on 8 March - five days after he won 10 state primaries on Super Tuesday.

    Three days later the WHO declared COVID-19 was a pandemic and, as Bernie Sanders mulled over whether to quit, most face-to-face rallies and fundraisers were cancelled.

    Harris became a reliable surrogate for Biden in online fundraisers and she headlined an event for Biden in Raleigh, North Carolina - a battleground state where her appeal to black voters and college-educated white women could be a factor.

    "Talented"

    Harris comes from a family of high achievers - her mother Shyamala Gopalan was a Tamil immigrant from Indian who came to California to do a doctorate in endocrinology at Berkeley and met her father Donald Harris, who came from Jamaica in 1961 to study economics.

    Her mother became a breast cancer researcher and activist and her father is an emeritus professor of economics at Stanford University.

    Her sister Maya is a political analyst with MSNBC and her brother-in-law Tony West is Uber’s Chief Legal Officer.

    Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., speaks at a campaign rally for Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden at Renaissance High School in Detroit, Monday, March 9, 2020.
    © AP Photo / Paul Sancya
    Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., speaks at a campaign rally for Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden at Renaissance High School in Detroit, Monday, March 9, 2020.

    Harris’s niece is Meena is a lawyer, author and founder of the Phenomenal Woman Action Campaign.

    Harris herself started out in the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office, where she specialised in prosecuting paedophiles.

    In 2003 she was elected as District Attorney in San Francisco in 2003 and was re-elected four years later.

    She was elected California’s Attorney General in 2010 and, after being re-elected four years later, she was picked to replace veteran Barbara Boxer as California’s junior Senator.

    Harris entered Congress at the same time as Trump became President and on her website it says: "As US Senator, Kamala introduced or co-sponsored legislation to provide sweeping tax cuts for the middle class, address the high cost of rent, raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour, make higher education tuition-free for the vast majority of Americans, reform the cash bail system, protect the legal rights of refugees and immigrants, and expand access to affordable, quality health care with Medicare For All."

    "Great Help To Campaign"

    The Democrats will need to mobilise BAME voters like never before if they are to win November’s election.

    Harris - whose parents are African-American and Indian - will help with that and the fact her husband is Jewish could also prove advantageous as Trump has been trying to drag Jewish voters away from their traditional support for the Democrats with his strong support for Israel.

    Senator Kamala Harris talks to colleagues prior to the start of a memorial ceremony for Congressman John Lewis on 27 July.
    © REUTERS / POOL
    Kamala Harris wears a mask at a memorial ceremony for veteran civil rights activist John Lewis

    On 28 July Biden announced plans to put US$30 billion - 10 percent of the federal investment he has already promised - into a Small Business Opportunity Fund designed to boost private investment for BAME-owned enterprises.

    Biden also plans to spend US$50 billion to give start-up capital to BAME entrepreneurs setting out in business in disadvantaged areas like Chicago's South Side. 

    "Great Respect For Her"

    Biden has praised Harris many times and has often mentioned her friendship with his son Beau - both were state attorneys general - who died in 2015.

    Although she may not have the personal charm and charisma of Barack or Michelle Obama, Harris does bring a certain amount of glamour to the Biden ticket.

    Barack Obama Michelle Obama Queen Elizabeth II Buckingham Palace London
    © CC0
    Barack Obama Michelle Obama Queen Elizabeth II Buckingham Palace London

    She has no children of her own but is a stepmother to her husband Doug Emhoff’s children, Ella and Cole, who she says refer to her as "Momala."

    In 2016, Hillary Clinton campaigned as if being the first woman candidate of one of the two big parties entitled her to a place in history as the first female US President.

    Harris will make no such mistake. She does not have the arrogance or the baggage of the Clintons and if she does end up in the Oval Office one day it will upset far less people than if Hillary had become the commander-in-chief.

    Tags:
    California, vice president, US Election 2020, Joe Biden, Kamala Harris
    Community standardsDiscussion