After having stretched uncertainty to the maximum, Joe Biden has cleared up the mystery of who will be his number two in the campaign and possible vice president of the United States
After having stretched uncertainty to the maximum, Joe Biden has cleared the question of who will be his number two in the campaign and possible vice president of the United States: Kamala Harris. A different profile than job candidates usually have. Harris’s energy, relative youth, tendency to hit hard, and well-known ambition portray an unusual campaign. Biden, who will turn 78 in November, has hinted that she is a transitional candidacy. In this context, you may not have chosen just one vice president. Biden may have chosen, too, her successor as president of the United States.
“When Kamala was attorney general [of California], she worked closely with Beau,” Biden tweeted, referring to his eldest son, Beau Biden, who passed away from brain cancer in 2015. “I saw how they took on the big banks, they helped people working women and protect women and children from abuse. I was proud, and I am proud now to have her as my partner in this campaign.”
The appointment, in the thick, multi-dimensional world of political strategy, ticks many of the boxes Joe Biden might have in mind. Kamala Harris has campaign experience, first as a senator and then as a presidential candidate; an element of ease, that of the politician accustomed to shaking hands and giving several speeches a day, which was lacking in the other great finalist, the diplomat Susan Rice, less involved in the arcana of public opinion.
A tough prosecutor
Harris knows how to adapt her image to the political context. Despite her reputation for being tough in the fight against crime and drug trafficking when she was a prosecutor, she is now one of the most energetic defenders in Congress of the laws of racial justice. The senator presents her past in the legal profession as an experience that has allowed her to understand the cracks in the criminal justice system, which she is now committed to reforming.
Her personal story is also in keeping with the sensibilities of these days. Kamala Harris, of a Jamaican father and an Indian mother, was the first woman to serve as the prosecutor in San Francisco and then in California. A milestone in a country where eight out of ten prosecutors are men; the majority, nine out of ten, white. Harris is also the second black woman to hold a Senate seat.
Kamala Harris becomes the first woman of color in American history to occupy the second half of a presidential ticket
At the same time, it is a moderate akin to the Democratic establishment. Her nearly four years on Capitol Hill can make her a channel of communication between the executive and legislative branches – a common quality among vice presidents. Kamala Harris thus becomes the third woman in the history of the United States, after Democrat Geraldine Ferraro and Republican Sarah Palin, to occupy the second half of a presidential ticket; the first woman of color.
Traditionally, vice presidents have always had the importance of a “hot pie,” in the words of one of them, John Garner, number two for Franklin D. Roosevelt. A figurehead, chosen to offset some of the candidate’s weak points. Biden himself provided what Barack Obama lacked: foreign policy experience and longstanding relationships with the Republican Party.
Even so, the figure has been gaining weight. The vice president position has served as a springboard to the jackpot many times, both because of the death of the president and because of political calculation. This was the case for Harry Truman, Richard Nixon (albeit with a hiatus in between), Lyndon Johnson, Gerald Ford, and George HW Bush. It almost was for Al Gore and it may be for Joe Biden again.
The future presidential projection of Kamala Harris is even more evident than in all these cases. The senator has already run for president in this electoral cycle and does not miss the opportunity to sign up for popular causes and stir up Donald Trump on Twitter. As a former prosecutor, Harris has a reputation for knowing how to identify the weaknesses of her adversaries like no one else. Joe Biden, who was reminded of her questionable civil rights record in a primary debate, knows this very well.
The fact that he has finally chosen Harris can confirm the collected attitude of Biden, a man haloed by the years, with a political career approaching half a century, and who has waged much of his campaign from the basement of his home: limiting their public appearances and avoiding face to face with the press. His solid reputation as a politician who talks more than necessary, exaggerating and screwing up, haunts him, and his aides are known to try to limit the damage.
The Democrat would have no intention, therefore, of being an omnipresent leader, addicted to the spotlight and political fights. For that, he has already spent 36 years in the Senate and eight more in the White House. Now Biden, who according to close sources cited by Politico (although later denied by the campaign) would be planning a single term, would be a transition candidate. A return to the predictable, grey and procedural politics of a lifetime. If these intuitions are fulfilled, Biden would stay in his office signing decrees and would only go out to give the speech of rigour. The headlines of the press, the tooth of national politics, would be on the account of Harris, 55.
Some of Biden’s associates, a dozen according to sources consulted by CNBC, had conveyed to the campaign their concern about the possible election of Harris, questioning her loyalty. The senator’s attack on Biden in that debate had upset some of the candidate’s allies. Two weeks ago, Biden was photographed holding a note from her listing Harris’s advantages: it said: “don’t hold a grudge against him.”
The campaign has announced that the couple will appear during a ceremony in Wilmington, the city of Biden, in the state of Delaware and in the future campaigns. The duo will communicate their intention to “restore the soul of the nation” if they win the election. A likely result, according to all the surveys that have come out to date. Although the certainties seem to have remained for history.