I was never a big fan of Kamala Harris when she was running for President. Yet I am surprisingly pleased by her selection to be Joe Biden’s running mate. The former California Attorney General and San Francisco district attorney, she was a tough-on-crime prosecutor (too tough, say some), and is a seasoned campaigner. As US Senator, who served on the all-important judiciary and intelligence committees, she was vetted in the primaries. A tough competitor, if not the perfect primary candidate, she won’t be flummoxed by any dirty tricks the Trump legions come up with. Regardless of race or gender, Harris is a powerful choice for Biden’s running mate.
The first rule in making such a selection is: do no harm. Harris, as Biden, is more centrist than short-lister Elizabeth Warren, who likely would have turned off many Republicans, independents and moderate Democrats that Biden needs to unseat Trump. Biden already has far more African-American support than Donald Trump, but, as an African-American female running mate, Harris may well energize more young progressive Blacks to vote, who, according to polling, might have sat out the election because of lack of enthusiasm for Joe Biden. Similarly, with a Democratic governor in a position to replace Harris should the ticket prevail, naming a Republican won’t be an issue the same way it could well have been Governor Charlie Baker was faced with tapping Elizabeth Warren’s replacement.
The first attack out of Trump quarters was to attack Harris’ integrity for having criticized Biden during the campaign (around the issue of busing) and now reversing herself to win a place on the ticket. Biden himself dismissed it as a debate tactic, though Jill Biden reportedly was initially skeptical. Trump’s criticism is thin gruel indeed, hardly worth dignifying with a defense. Lyndon Johnson was highly critical of Jack Kennedy but became his running mate; so too with George H. W. Bush and his constant “voodoo economics” criticism of Ronald Reagan.
Harris, 55, the daughter of immigrants with a remarkable record of achievement, brings to the campaign a level of energy that, uh, let’s face it, is not the first thing we think of when we think of Joe Biden. On October 7, Harris will confront Mike Pence in the 2020 vice presidential candidate debate. My calendar is already marked.