Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and his newly named running mate, Senator Kamala Harris, are set to make their first joint appearance Wednesday as a team seeking to defeat President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence in the November general election.
The Biden-Harris campaign said the pair would speak in Wilmington, Delaware, about “working together to restore the soul of the nation and fight for working families to move the country forward.”
Watch the campaign event:
Ahead of their appearance at Alexis DuPont High School Wednesday afternoon, several Delaware locals — including many members of Harris’ sorority, Alpha Kappa Alpha, dressed in the group’s signature salmon pink and apple green — came to show their support.
“We are coming out to support this monumental experience,” Melanie Daniels, an AKA member dressed all in pink, told VOA outside the high school.
"And as a Delaware native and a graduate, class of ’88, Alexis DuPont High School, it’s just an awesome moment in time for us,” her colleague, Shealese Russell-Reams, who was dressed all in green, added.
The two women were among the more than a dozen people who stopped by over the lunch hour in hopes of catching a glimpse of Biden and Harris enter the high school, where a virtual fundraiser is scheduled to take place later Wednesday afternoon.
Ahead of the appearance, Biden said he picked Harris, because if they are elected on November 3, “She’s ready to lead on day one.”
If @KamalaHarris and I are elected, we’re going to inherit multiple crises, a nation divided, and a world in disarray. We won’t have a minute to waste.
That's exactly why I picked her: She's ready to lead on day one.— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) August 12, 2020
Biden officially named Harris as his running mate Tuesday, making her the first Black woman and South Asian American woman to be named on a major party ticket for a presidential election.
“I have the great honor to announce that I’ve picked Kamala Harris — a fearless fighter for the little guy, and one of the country’s finest public servants — as my running mate,” Biden tweeted Tuesday afternoon.
After winning enough primaries to secure the nomination earlier this year, Biden, 77, committed himself to picking a female vice presidential candidate. There was much speculation he would choose a Black woman to run with him. A number of familiar and respected names surfaced in the press as potential running mates.
But Biden and Harris have a long friendship going back to the days when she was California attorney general at the same time Biden’s late son, Beau Biden, was attorney general in Delaware.
“She worked closely with Beau. I watched as they took on the big banks, lifted up working people, and protected women and kids from abuse,” Joe Biden tweeted Tuesday. “I was proud then, and I’m proud now to have her as my partner in this campaign.”
Harris delivered stinging criticism of her rival during the primary debates but had high praise for Biden during a campaign event several weeks ago, before she was named as his running mate.
“Joe has empathy, he has a proven track record of leadership and more than ever before, we need a president of the United States who understands who the people are, sees them where they are, and has a genuine desire to help and knows how to fight to get us where we need to be,” Harris said.
Harris, 55, was born in Oakland, California. She is the daughter of immigrants, her father from Jamaica and her mother from India.
She graduated from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law and was elected district attorney for San Francisco in 2003 and California attorney general in 2010.
Harris arrived in Washington less than four years ago as a U.S Democratic senator from California.
In her 2020 presidential campaign, Harris was briefly the Democratic front-runner after success in the early debates. Her criticism of Biden’s one-time opposition to court-ordered busing to achieve racial balance in public schools strained their relationship.
But Harris’ overall centrist political stance in the early debates, including her support for law enforcement as an attorney general, failed to excite progressives and liberals, and she dropped out of the presidential race before the first primaries.
Some Democrats accused her of being out of touch over issues of police violence - questions that are bound to be raised again amid nationwide protests against police brutality against Black people and other people of color.
Several other women whom Biden considered for a running mate gave their endorsements of Harris after her selection Tuesday.
“Senator Harris is a tenacious and trailblazing leader who will make a great partner on the campaign trail,” said Susan Rice, former U.S. national security adviser and U.N. ambassador.
Congresswoman Karen Bass, who leads the Congressional Black Caucus, a group of most African Americans in Congress, called Harris a “great choice.”
"Her tenacious pursuit of justice and relentless advocacy for the people is what is needed right now,” Bass said.
Senator Elizabeth Warren, who also ran unsuccessfully for the Democratic presidential nomination, said of Harris: “She'll be a great partner to Joe Biden in making our government a powerful force for good in the fight for social, racial and economic justice."
Former President Barack Obama was among other prominent Democrats who welcomed the Harris selection.
“I’ve known Senator Kamala Harris for a long time. She is more than prepared for the job. She’s spent her career defending our Constitution and fighting for folks who need a fair shake. This is a good day for our country. Now let’s go win this thing,” Obama tweeted Tuesday.
Democratic Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi, who was born in New Delhi, tweeted: “Regardless of your political leanings, it says so much about the progress our country has made that a major party ticket now includes a Black and South Asian American woman.”
Trump said Tuesday he was “surprised” Biden chose Harris.
“I was more surprised than anything else because she did so poorly, many people did much better than her in the primaries,” Trump said.
Harris is the third woman to run for vice president on a major party ticket.
Democratic representative Geraldine Ferraro was Walter Mondale's running mate in 1984 when they lost by a landslide to the Republican ticket of Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.
Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin ran with Republican John McCain in 2008 but lost to Democrats Obama and Biden.