Kamala Harris and 5 Other History-Making Vice Presidential Picks
With Tuesday's announcement, the California senator and former state attorney general will join the ranks of these prominent running mates over the years.
"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," Biden tweeted.
"Back when Kamala was Attorney General, she worked closely with Beau. I watched as they took on the big banks, lifted up working people, and protected women and kids from abuse," he continued. "I was proud then, and I'm proud now to have her as my partner in this campaign."
Harris, 55, is the first Black woman and first person of Indian descent on either major party's presidential ticket.
She is 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 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton in 2016.
Biden's choice was long in the making: He announced in March, early in the Democratic primary, that his running mate would be a woman if he won the nomination and he said in June that the potential picks included four Black women.
Harris — a former prosecutor who challenged Biden for the Democratic nomination with her own presidential bid last year, including a viral bit of debate face-off — remained high on the prospective shortlist of running mates.
The former Democratic congresswoman from Queens, New York, made history when she became the first woman nominated for national office by a major party. She accepted her vice presidential nomination in 1984 and ran alongside presidential candidate Walter F. Mondale for the two highest offices in the U.S., only to lose by a landslide against President Ronald Reagan and Vice President George H.W. Bush.
Despite the defeat, Ferraro's barrier breaking opened doors for other women to have a seat at the table in Washington.
"By choosing an American woman to run for our nation's second-highest office, you send a powerful signal to all Americans," she said during her historic acceptance speech. "There are no doors we cannot unlock. We will place no limits on achievement. If we can do this, we can do anything."
Palin served as governor of Alaska from 2006 to 2009. In 2008, she became the first woman — as well as the first Alaskan — on a Republican presidential ticket, when Sen. John McCain picked her as his potential vice president.
Although the current Democratic presidential nominee wasn't the first Catholic vice-presidential pick — Ferraro preceded him and Sen. Tim Kaine succeeded him — Biden was the first Catholic person to officially hold the title of vice president, beginning in 2009.
Historically, vice presidents were chosen to add balance to the ticket — whether for geography (a candidate from the North choosing one from the South) or ideology (a progressive or newcomer choosing a moderate or mainstay).
However, once President Bill Clinton chose Gore to be his running mate in the 1992 election, he also transformed the vice presidency to be seen as more of a partnership.
Clinton and Gore were the youngest ticket for a major political party in history, at 45 and 44 years old respectively, and both were Southerners seen as moderates.
The new selection model set a precedent for future picks, which gave the second in command more room to establish their own lane throughout the length of their service.
After serving alongside Clinton from 1993 to 2001, Gore launched his own presidential bid and chose Lieberman to be his running mate.
The nomination gave the then-senator from Connecticut the distinction of being the first Jewish person appointed by a major party.