Who Is Kamala Harris? Senator From California Is Biden's VP Pick The selection will make Harris the third woman and first Black and first Asian American candidate to be nominated for vice president by a major political party.

In Historic Pick, Joe Biden Taps Kamala Harris To Be His Running Mate

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Twelve years ago, when choosing a running mate, Barack Obama turned to one of his presidential rivals, Joe Biden. Now Joe Biden is the Democratic presidential nominee and chose one of his rivals. Sen. Kamala Harris is California's former attorney general. Though she did not get very far in the presidential race, she is considered a rising Democratic star.

And her identity is not incidental. Biden had said he would choose a woman, and the woman he settled on identifies as Black and is the daughter of immigrants from Jamaica and India. Nobody of such a background has ever claimed a place on a major party national ticket.

NPR political correspondent Scott Detrow will be in Wilmington, Del., today when Biden and Harris appear together. Scott, good morning.

SCOTT DETROW, BYLINE: Hey. Good morning.

INSKEEP: Why Harris?

DETROW: You know, the idea of Harris eventually serving as Biden's running mate has been the general consensus for so long that last year, when she was running for president herself, she at times had to try and deflect that idea with sarcasm.


KAMALA HARRIS: Sure. If people want to speculate about running mates, I encourage that 'cause I think that Joe Biden would be a great running mate. As vice president, he's proven that he knows how to do the job.

DETROW: Biden was looking for someone he was ideologically similar to, and they're both pragmatic consensus builders on the moderate liberal side of things. And this is a really classic vice presidential pick in that it balances the ticket. Biden is a 77-year-old white man from Delaware. Harris is a 55-year-old woman of color from California.

INSKEEP: She's a generation younger but still is like Biden in that both have a lot of experience in government.

DETROW: That's right. She's a longtime prosecutor, and that is a fact that a lot of progressive voters held against her when she ran for president. In 2003, she ran for San Francisco district attorney. In 2010, she was elected California attorney general. She came to the Senate in 2016, and she quickly developed a national reputation for the way she grilled witnesses, like Attorney General Bill Barr during Senate hearings.


HARRIS: Attorney General Barr, has the president or anyone at the White House ever asked or suggested that you open an investigation of anyone?

WILLIAM BARR: I wouldn't - I wouldn't...

HARRIS: Yes or no?

BARR: Could you repeat that question?

HARRIS: I will repeat it.

DETROW: Harris did run for president, but it is worth noting that after entering the race as a top-tier contender, she kind of struggled at times to give voters a clear reason to back her in a very crowded field. And she dropped out of the race before the Iowa caucuses and, of course, went on to endorse Joe Biden's campaign.

INSKEEP: But was still seen, as you note, as a favorite to be the vice presidential choice, so I assume Republicans were ready for this.

DETROW: They were very ready. The Trump campaign posted a new ad about her minutes after the pick was announced, saying that Harris has a radical left agenda that would include raising taxes. These are attacks the Trump campaign has had a hard time getting to stick on Joe Biden, and they're hoping voters are more persuaded when it's someone with less of a national track record and a more liberal reputation. The Trump campaign also noticed Harris' high-profile criticisms of Biden's record on segregation and busing during the primary. And at a White House briefing yesterday, President Trump criticized Harris for those Senate hearings.


PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: She was extraordinarily nasty to Kavanaugh - Judge Kavanaugh then, now Justice Kavanaugh. She was nasty to a level that was just a horrible thing.

DETROW: And I will note that nasty is an insult that President Trump regularly uses for women and women of color, in particular.

INSKEEP: NPR's Scott Detrow, who will be at the vice presidential announcement later today. Scott, we'll be listening for your reporting. Thanks so much.

DETROW: Thank you.

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