Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden took note of the historic moment Wednesday when introducing Senator Kamala Harris, his vice presidential choice, at a campaign event in Delaware.
Biden and Harris, who both came onstage wearing face masks because of the coronavirus pandemic, spoke from the stage of a high school in Biden’s hometown of Wilmington, Delaware.
Their speeches focused on the theme of their campaign, stressing their leadership in helping Americans during the crises of the pandemic and growing economic turmoil, as well as the inspirational message of choosing Harris.
“This morning,all across the nation, little girls woke up — especially little Black and brown girls, who so often feel overlooked and undervalued in their communities — but today, just maybe they’re seeing themselves for the first time in a new way,” Biden said.
About 100 people, most of them Wilmington residents, gathered outside Alexis DuPont high school on Wednesday for just a glimpse of the candidates.
“I thought it was important to come out to see history,” Janice Nelson, a Delaware native standing alongside her 14-year-old son, told VOA.
“We don't know if I'll get a glimpse of them or not. It doesn't matter. We just want to be here to say that we're voting,” she said.
A few attendees wore Biden shirts or hats. One man had fashioned his own “Biden Harris” sign, just hours after Harris was named Biden’s running mate when little merchandise featuring both names has been made available.
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.
Due to the pandemic, the candidates’ first joint event was held in a nearly empty gymnasium. COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, has killed more than 165,000 people in the U.S.
Biden said he and Harris would work to "rebuild this country."
He accused President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence of failing to lead during the COVID-19 crisis and said that he and Harris would fix "the mess” created in the U.S. and abroad by Trump and Pence, whom the Democrats are seeking to defeat in the November general election.
Harris, from California, also attacked Trump in her speech.
"America is crying out for leadership, yet we have a president who cares more about himself than the people who elected him, a president who is making every challenge we face even more difficult to solve," she said, saying Trump has endangered Americans by not taking the pandemic seriously.
Ahead of their appearance Wednesday, a number of Wilmington residents — including many members of Harris’s Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority, dressed in the group’s signature salmon pink and apple green — dropped by on their lunch breaks from work, hoping to witness either Biden or Harris entering the building.
“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 more than a dozen people who stopped by over the lunch hour in hopes of catching a glimpse of Biden and Harris entering the high school, where a virtual fundraiser was scheduled to take place later Wednesday afternoon.
After winning enough primaries to secure the nomination earlier this year, Biden, 77, committed himself to picking a female running mate. 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 candidates.
Harris delivered stinging criticism of Biden during the primary debates but had high praise for him during a campaign event several weeks ago.
“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 is from Jamaica, and her mother is 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.
Harris is only the third woman ever picked for vice president by a major party.
Semocratic Congresswoman Geraldine Ferraro was Vice President 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 Barack Obama and Biden.