Joe Biden Has Chosen Sen. Kamala Harris as His Running Mate

Gabrielle Bruney
·5 mins read

From Esquire

After months of speculation, presumptive Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden announced Tuesday that his running mate will be California's Sen. Kamala Harris.

The two have come a long way—this time last year, they were facing off as primary opponents, with Harris scoring one of her campaign's biggest boosts with a debate stage attack on Biden's record on school desegregation. But since Harris dropped out of the race in December, the two have clearly mended fences, and last month Biden was photographed holding notes bearing her name followed by talking points including, “Talented,” “Great help to campaign,” and “Do not hold grudges.” Now, Harris is officially the first Black woman and Asian-American to run on a major party's presidential ticket. Here's what you should know about her, and some of the other women who were in the running for the V.P. slot.

The V.P. Pick

Kamala Harris

Photo credit: Lorenzo Bevilaqua - Getty Images
Photo credit: Lorenzo Bevilaqua - Getty Images

The junior senator from California was long considered to be a top contender to be Biden's running mate. She’s a nationally-known figure fresh off a run at the presidency, and was briefly among the leading contenders for the highest office—though that rise was precipitated by a contentious attack on Biden's record on race. The Biden team's likely hoping she'll turn up the debate stage heat once again when she squares off against Mike Pence.

That she hails from a solidly blue state wouldn't do much to help Biden's electoral math, but the candidate himself let loose some pretty sizable hints that Harris could be his running mate. During a virtual town hall back in April, he said that he was “so lucky” to have Harris “be a part of this partnership.”

“Working together, we can make a great deal of progress,” said Biden. “I'm coming for you, kid.”

The Former Contenders

Susan Rice

Photo credit: Win McNamee - Getty Images
Photo credit: Win McNamee - Getty Images

The Obama-era national security advisor and U.N. Ambassador is considered to be another leading candidate for the V.P. role. Thanks to their shared time in the Obama administration, Rice and Biden are already friends—which could definitely come in handy as the candidate is reportedly looking for someone with whom he could have the warm relationship he shared with President Obama during his vice presidency.

And while Rice definitely has stronger foreign policy credentials than anyone else currently in the running, one of her weaknesses is that she’s never held an elected office before. Rice has a sterling resume thanks to her roles in the Obama administration, but her work in those years also leaves her particularly vulnerable to familiar Republican attacks regarding Benghazi and the debunked “spygate” conspiracy theory.

Karen Bass

Photo credit: Paul Morigi - Getty Images
Photo credit: Paul Morigi - Getty Images


California Representative Karen Bass became a big name in the vice presidential contest this summer, largely thanks to her leading role in crafting the House’s police reform bill in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests sparked by the killing of George Floyd.

Bass is the chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, but until she was in contention for the Vice Presidency, she wasn’t a terribly high-profile political figure. And under the spotlight of the national press, she’s been both praised for her records on civil rights and anti-police brutality activism, and criticized for praising the Church of Scientology and Fidel Castro.

Elizabeth Warren

Photo credit: Randy Holmes - Getty Images
Photo credit: Randy Holmes - Getty Images

With her commanding debate performances and copious plans, Warren ran one of the most-watched campaigns of the primary season, and, according to YouGov polling, is the only woman to crack the list of the nation's top 10 most popular political figures. A progressive from Massachusetts might not aid in the Biden campaign's efforts to court right-leaning voters, but it would be an olive branch to the party's left flank, and could potentially engender Democratic unity while adding an enthusiasm boost to his campaign. But to some top Democrats, one of the major knocks against Warren is her age, the Associated Press reported. If Biden won with Warren as his number two, the then-71 year old would become the oldest vice president in American history.

Gretchen Whitmer

Photo credit: Bill Pugliano - Getty Images
Photo credit: Bill Pugliano - Getty Images

Whitmer isn't the biggest national name Biden could pick as a running mate, but her profile has risen considerably during the coronavirus pandemic, which has found her facing typically misogynistic fire from President Trump after criticizing the federal pandemic response. As the governor of Michigan, she could help bring in voters from another one of those all-important "Big Four" battleground states, while her ability to go toe-to-toe with the president (who's already given her one of his signature hateful nicknames, tweeting last month of "Gretchen 'Half' Whitmer") could play well with Trump-loathing Democratic voters.

Tammy Duckworth

Photo credit: Alex Wong - Getty Images
Photo credit: Alex Wong - Getty Images

Few members of Congress hold a resume as stellar as Senator Duckworth's—she's served in the House, was elected as Illinois' junior senator in 2016, and is also a Purple Heart recipient. Duckworth lost both her legs when her helicopter was hit by a grenade while she served in Iraq, and she's the first disabled woman elected to Congress as well as the first Congress member to be born in Thailand. As a moderate Democrat, she could help court centrists, while her history-making candidacy might drum up enthusiasm among liberals.

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