Biden picks Kamala Harris as running mate

Washington, Aug 11 (efe-epa).- The 2020 Democratic candidate for president of the United States, Joe Biden, announced Tuesday that Sen. Kamala Harris will be his running mate.

“I have the great honor to announce that I’ve picked @KamalaHarris – a fearless fighter for the little guy, and one of the country’s finest public servants – as my running mate,” the former vice president said in a tweet.

Harris, born in the US to a Jamaican father and a mother from India, will become the first black woman named to a major party presidential ticket when she is confirmed as the nominee during next week’s virtual Democratic National Convention.

Biden, who served two terms as vice president under Barack Obama, the country’s first African-American president, said months ago that he was going to choose a woman as his running mate.

Amid the nationwide Black Lives Matter protests sparked by the the police killing of George Floyd, calls came for Biden to select a woman of color.

Four other women said to have been on Biden’s short list – former National Security Adviser Susan Rice, Reps. Karen Bass and Val Demings and former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams – are black, while Sen. Tammy Duckworth has Thai heritage.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer were also considered for the No. 2 spot on the ticket.

Obama applauded Biden’s choice of Harris.

“Choosing a vice president is the first important decision a president makes. Biden nailed this decision,” Obama said in a statement. “By choosing Harris as America’s next vice president, he’s underscored his own judgment and character.”

“Reality shows us that these attributes are not optional in a president. They’re requirements of the job. And now Joe has an ideal partner to help him tackle the very real challenges America faces right now and in the years ahead,” the former president said.

Harris, like Warren, was among the more than 20 candidates who vied with Biden for the Democratic presidential nomination.

During one of the campaign debates, Harris criticized Biden for having touted his ability while a member of the Senate in the 1970s to forge alliances with southern segregationist senators such as James Eastland of Mississippi and Herman Talmadge of Georgia.

Harris told Biden that while she didn’t believe he was a racist, it was hurtful to hear him warmly recall working with the likes of Eastland and Talmadge.

She also questioned Biden’s opposition to federally ordered busing to integrate schools during the 1970s.

“There was a little girl in California who was part of the second class to integrate her public schools and she was bused to school every day,” Harris said. “That little girl was me.”

Biden responded by saying that he was only against “busing ordered by the Department of Education” but didn’t oppose local integration efforts, while trying to put his comments about long-deceased Senate colleagues in context.

“I did not praise racists,” the former vice president said.

Before her election to the Senate in 2016, the 55-year-old Harris was district attorney in San Francisco and California’s attorney general.

As a prosecutor, Harris cultivated a tough-on-crime reputation that has led some Black Lives Matter activists and others who oppose violent policing and mass incarceration to raise questions about her commitment to reform of criminal justice.

Even before she formally entered the presidential contest, critics of her record created the Twitter-handle “Kamala Harris is a cop.”

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