Harris' history-making spot on the Biden ticket was announced Tuesday

By Jen Juneau
August 11, 2020 07:22 PM
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From left: former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Kamala Harris
Maya Harris/Twitter

As soon as Joe Biden announced that Sen. Kamala Harris was joining his ticket as the Democratic vice presidential candidate, many — including President Donald Trump — spoke out with their opinions.

Trump, 74, was quick to tweet out an attack ad against Harris, labeling her as a "radical" Democratic politician in a familiar slam.

(Late last month, he said Harris "would be a fine choice" by Biden, in an unusually mild response.)

The president used his coronavirus briefing at the White House later on Tuesday afternoon to highlight a head-to-head moment between Harris and Biden at a primary debate last July, when she criticized his past stance on busing.

Vice President Mike Pence weighed in offline — mentioning Harris while speaking at a church, to boos from the crowd. "Let me take this opportunity to welcome her to the race," he said.

But Harris received a warmer welcome in Democratic circles, as well as from family members and celebrities.

Former President Barack Obama said in a statement that Biden, his former vice president, "nailed this decision."

"By choosing Senator Kamala Harris as America’s next vice president, he’s underscored his own judgment and character," Obama said, adding, "I've known Senator Harris for a long time. She is more than prepared for the job."

Obama said that "Michelle and I couldn’t be more thrilled," noting former First Lady Michelle Obama's added support.

Former 2016 Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton tweeted that she, too, was "thrilled" Harris was named as Biden's running mate.

"She's already proven herself to be an incredible public servant and leader," Clinton wrote. "And I know she’ll be a strong partner to [Biden]."

Sen. Bernie Sanders, another former presidential candidate in 2016 and 2020, tweeted his congratulations Tuesday.

"[Harris] understands what it takes to stand up for working people, fight for health care for all, and take down the most corrupt administration in history," Sanders wrote. "Let’s get to work and win."

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From left: former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Kamala Harris
Matt Baron/Shutterstock

Some of Harris' family members shared their exuberance in more personal terms.

"That day when a little girl from Oaktown became the first black woman to be a major-party vice-presidential nominee," Harris' sister, Maya, tweeted alongside a baby picture of the candidate. "So incredibly proud of you, sis!"

The senator's niece, Meena, tweeted: "Wish my grandma was here."

Biden, 77, made the running-mate announcement via text to his supporters on Tuesday and quickly followed up with a statement on Twitter.

The former vice president wrote that Harris is "a fearless fighter for the little guy, and one of the country’s finest public servants."

Harris, 55, responded shortly after, saying Biden "can unify the American people because he's spent his life fighting for us."

"And as president, he'll build an America that lives up to our ideals," the newly named Democratic running mate added.

Former Second Lady Dr. Jill Biden, tweeted at Harris' husband, Douglas Emhoff, asking, "Are you ready?"

Emhoff responded: "Ready to work! Let’s go!"

Vice President Biden had vowed to pick a woman as his running mate at a Democratic primary debate in March.

He said this summer, after protests swept the nation following the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, that there were a number of Black women among the finalists to join the ticket.

Harris becomes the first Black woman and the first Indian-American politician be named to either major party's presidential ticket.

Ben Crump, the attorney representing Floyd's family in its lawsuit against the Minneapolis police department, referred to Harris as "LADY JUSTICE!" in a tweet congratulating her Tuesday.

Harris is also the fourth woman on a major presidential ticket, after Democratic vice presidential nominee Geraldine Ferraro in 1984, Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin in 2008 and Clinton, the Democratic presidential nominee in 2016.

Sen. Kamala Harris during the San Francisco Pride Parade in 2018
Arun Nevader/Getty

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Celebs React

Harris received a wave of support from stars on Tuesday.

Actress Mindy Kaling tweeted: "Was there ever more of an exciting day?"

"For our entire country of course, but especially for my Black and Indian sisters, many of us who have gone our entire lives thinking that someone who looks like us may never hold high office?" The Mindy Project creator wrote. "We work so hard and contribute to the fabric of our lives in America, & now to see [Harris] rise to the top like this? It’s thrilling!! I am filled with hope and excitement."

Maya Rudolph, who has portrayed Harris on Saturday Night Live, was asked by Entertainment Weekly for her reaction, to which she "immediately" responded: "Oh s---. Ruh-roh."

"That's spicy," Rudolph said, adding, "I love going to the show any excuse I can get ... I just didn't really anticipate traveling during this pandemic, but if there's anyone who can work it out I'm sure [producer] Lorne [Michaels] has some kind of invisible helicopter that can get me there."

Harris' experience as a prosector had some Democratic-leaning celebrities looking forward to the Oct. 7 vice presidential debate between her and Pence.

"Mike Pence is toast on that debate stage," tweeted Star Trek actor George Takei.

"Poor [Pence], [Harris] is going to shred him in the debates," actor Misha Collins wrote on Twitter.

President Trump's niece, Mary Trump, who wrote a scathing memoir about him and their family, tweeted her support for Harris, calling her "a total #badass."

"They can run, but they can't hide," Mary added. "[Pence] should probably try to hide, though."

Harris' Historic Moment

After saying in April that he would have Mrs. Obama as his vice presidential pick "in a heartbeat" if she had any interest, Biden was urged by Sen. Amy Klobuchar to choose a woman of color.

"America must seize on the moment, and I truly believe — as I actually told the VP last night when I called him — that I think this is a moment to put a woman of color on that ticket," Klobuchar, 60, said in June. "And there are so many incredibly qualified women. ... If you want to heal this nation right now, my party yes, but our nation, this is a hell of a way to do it."

Responding to the announcement, Biden commended the Minnesota senator, writing on Twitter that she knows "how to get things done."

"Amy — from the moment you announced you were running for president in a snowstorm, it wasn't hard to see you had the grit and determination to do anything you set your mind to. You know how to get things done," he wrote. "With your help, we're going to beat Donald Trump."

Clinton made history in 2016 when she was picked by the Democrats as the first female presidential candidate for a major political party.

In 1984, Ferraro was the first woman nominated as vice president by a major political party. (She and Democratic presidential nominee Walter Mondale lost to Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush in an infamous landslide.)

Harris was considered for Biden's ticket alongside other lawmakers who are women of color. A number of those fellow candidates shared their congratulations shortly after the news broke Tuesday.

California Rep. Karen Bass tweeted that Harris was a “great choice” and wrote the senator’s “tenacious pursuit of justice and relentless advocacy for the people is what is needed right now.”

Susan Rice, a former top official in the Obama-Biden White House, shared her “warmest congratulations” for Biden’s new running mate.

“Senator Harris is a tenacious and trailblazing leader who will make a great partner on the campaign trail,” Rice said in a statement. “I am confident that Biden-Harris will prove to be a winning ticket.”

Stacey Abrams, a former Georgia lawmaker who publicly made her case to be Biden’s running mate throughout the summer, said she was “thrilled to support” the Biden-Harris ticket.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer tweeted that she was “extraordinarily proud to support” Harris and Biden, referencing the Biden campaign slogan in saying: “They will be a fierce team to Build America Back Better.”

"I've never been more confident than I am today that Joe Biden is that leader," Illinois Sen. Tammy Duckworth, another contender for the ticket, tweeted. "I'm all in for the Biden-Harris ticket and hope you will join me in helping ensure that he and Kamala are able to defeat Donald Trump and restore the soul of America this November."