Biden and Harris kick off Democratic campaign in person


WILMINGTON, Del. — The physical debut of the Democratic ticket of Joe Biden and his choice for vice president, Kamala Harris, on Wednesday was minimized because of coronavirus guidelines. They spoke in a mostly empty high school gym where reporters nearly outnumbered campaign aides and the candidates’ family members.

Biden and Harris criticized President Donald Trump as unable to contend with the most severe public health crisis in a century.

Harris claimed, “This virus has impacted almost every country. But there’s a reason it has hit America worse than any other advanced nation. It’s because of Trump’s failure to take it seriously from the start.” However, data shows that European nations were affected more severely than the United States.

Harris and Biden noted that she is the first Black woman on a major party’s presidential ticket.

Harris, who is also of South Asian descent, noted the “heroic and ambitious women before me, whose sacrifice, determination and resilience make my presence here today even possible.”

For his part, Trump has cast the Democrats as in some ways too liberal for America and yet not progressive enough for their party’s base. Trump has referred to Harris as nasty.

He also noted the two Democrats’ disagreements during the primary campaign last year.

“She said horrible things about him,” Trump said Wednesday. “She mocked him, openly mocked him. That’s why I thought that was a very risky pick. Because I’m sure that will be played back.”

Onstage in Wilmington, Biden and Harris showed affection toward one another. He called his running mate an “honorary Biden,” and Harris offered a poignant tribute to his son Beau, whom she was friends with when both served as state attorneys general.

She signaled that she’ll offer a vigorous defense of Biden’s qualifications on issues of race and civil rights, though she made headlines for assailing him for his past opposition to federally mandated busing during a primary debate.

Noting Biden’s own vice presidency under President Barack Obama, she said he is only person “who’s served alongside the first Black president and has chosen the first Black woman as his running mate.”

Biden announced at a later online fundraiser that the campaign raised $26 million in the 24 hours since she was announced, with 150,000 people giving for the first time.

They’ll have to resolve differences exposed during the primary campaign, from Harris’ initial support for a single-payer health insurance system and the Green New Deal to her deeply personal debate-stage broadside against Biden over his opposition to federally mandated busing to integrate public schools in the 1970s.

Harris no longer supports a single-payer health insurance system, now supporting Biden’s proposal to add a public insurance option to compete alongside private plans.

She has broadly endorsed the Green New Deal, progressives’ most ambitious set of proposals to combat climate change. Biden has moved left on his climate proposals during the 2020 campaign but has not fully embraced the Green New Deal.

—AP stories contributed to this report.

In Washington, Harris has advocated overhauling the criminal justice system, intensifying her efforts since George Floyd died while is custody of Minneapolis police officers in May. She has taken heat for some of her aggressive stances as a local prosecutor in the San Francisco area and for not prosecuting bank executives in the wake of the 2008 financial collapse.

—AP stories contributed to this report.


No comments on this story | Please log in to comment by clicking here
Please log in or register to add your comment