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Kamala Harris - a courageous choice

Carla Bleiker
Carla Bleiker
August 12, 2020

Likely Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has finally announced his choice of running mate. Kamala Harris is a risky but historic choice, says DW's Carla Bleiker.

Kamala Harris alone during a Democratic debate
Image: AFP/S. Loeb

Over the past few weeks, there has been just as much talk about Joe Biden's choice of a running mate as about him. British bookmakers, happy to take bets on everything from royal baby names to election candidates, had a field day.  Kamala Harris, whom Biden and his advisors have now chosen, was one of the bookies' favorites from the very start.

Polarizing candidate

Biden, however, has taken a risk by opting for the senator from California who ran for the Democratic nomination for president before ending her campaign last December and was a vocal critic of him in the primaries. One of her criticisms was that he had not distanced himself enough in the past from Senate colleagues who had been proponents of segregation.

It is not unusual for a presidential candidate to choose a former rival as their running mate. But Harris' trajectory so far opens her up to several lines of attack. Her critics say she did not do enough to fight for a fair criminal justice system when she was California's attorney general. Her campaign last year was plagued by accusations that she had not been thorough in investigating several police killings of African Americans. Meanwhile, Democrats on the left of the party spectrum, already not great fans of Biden, have criticized Harris' attempts to retrospectively present herself as a "progressive prosecutor."

Historic choice

But Harris is also a clever choice. She is a charismatic speaker who can captivate an audience, and she will be able to generate some much-needed enthusiasm among certain Democratic voters.

DW Washington correspondent Carla BleikerImage: privat

The daughter of an Indian-born mother and Jamaican-born father, she will also be the first African American woman to run for vice president for either of the two major parties. Her historic nomination comes at a time when the US is deeply engaged in a debate about systemic and structural racism. Biden hopes thus to win over more African American voters.

Considering his advanced age, Biden might only serve one term – if he wins – and observers predict that he might be paving the way for Harris to become the first female president of the US of any skin color.

For now, however, the Biden-Harris team has to win this November's election.

Carla Bleiker
Carla Bleiker Editor, channel manager and reporter focusing on US politics and science@cbleiker