Biden and Harris Make Socially Distanced Debut as Democratic Ticket


AUGUST 12, 2020

Joe Biden with wife Jill, and Kamala Harris with husband Douglas Emhoff stand on their social distance markers during a campaign event in Wilmington, Aug. 12. – Photographer: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris made their first joint appearance as running mates on Wednesday, promising to bring steady leadership to the White House and lacing into Donald Trump for his failed response to the coronavirus pandemic.

“The choice we make this November is going to determine the future of America for a long, long time,” Biden said. “Kamala knows how to govern. She knows how to make the hard calls. She knows how to do this job on Day One.”

A day after Biden said he’d picked Harris, the first Black and Indian-American woman to be on a major presidential party ticket, the Democratic nominee noted the historic nature of her candidacy and highlighted the importance of diversifying the ticket.

“This morning all across this nation little girls woke up — especially little Black and brown girls who so often may feel overlooked and undervalued in our society — but today, maybe they’re seeing themselves for the first time in a new way: as the stuff of president and vice presidents,” he said.

Harris also took note of the moment.

“Today he takes his place in the ongoing story of America’s march toward equality and justice as the only who has served alongside the first Black president and has chosen the first Black woman as his running mate,” she said.

The joint event was voters’ first opportunity to see the chemistry between Biden and Harris, but because of the pandemic, the event was dramatically scaled down from past, raucous introductions of a vice presidential nominee. Held in a small gym at Alexis I. duPont High School in Biden’s hometown of Wilmington, Delaware, the audience consisted entirely of journalists and campaign staff wearing masks and practicing social distancing.

Applause lines in the speeches were greeted with silence, and when the candidates’ spouses joined them after the event, they posed for photos more than six feet apart. Harris and her husband, Douglas Emhoff, waved with their arms high in the air, a move designed for the photographers, not for an audience.

The event could end up being one of the few joint appearances for the running mates, as pandemic restrictions have limited Biden’s in-person events.

Harris mixed her biography with searing attacks on Trump’s leadership, previewing the aggressive role she is likely to play on the ticket. Harris has shown her skills as an interrogator in Senate hearings, and many Democrats are hoping she can replicate that success against Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, whom she will debate in the fall.

“This is what happens when we elect a guy who just isn’t up for the job,” she said about Trump. “Our country ends up in tatters and so does our reputation around the world.”

Recalling her work as a prosecutor, she added: “The case against Donald Trump and Mike Pence is open and shut.”

Although the event was their first as a ticket, Biden and Harris have a history that dates back nearly a decade. Harris worked with Biden’s late son Beau when they were the attorneys general of their respective states. They shared friendly moments — and some tense ones — including Harris’s attack on Biden’s opposition to busing to desegregate schools in the 1970s — when both were campaigning for the Democratic nomination last year.

Harris reflected on her close relationship with Beau Biden, calling him the “kind of guy who inspired people to be a better version of themselves” as Joe Biden fought back tears. Biden said it was through his son that he first knew Harris, and Beau Biden’s respect for her “mattered a lot” as he made his decision.

As a former vice president himself, Biden also outlined the type of working relationship he wants with Harris, one modeled after the close partnership he had with Barack Obama.

“I asked Kamala to be the last voice in the room, to always tell me the truth, which she will, to challenege my assumptions if she disagrees, to ask the hard questions.”

After their speeches, Biden and Harris appeared at a virtual grassroots fundraiser, at which Biden announced the campaign had raised $26 million in the 24 hours since Harris had been selected as his running.

Courtesy/Source: Bloomberg