Joe Biden And Kamala Harris Make 1st Joint Appearance | New Hampshire Public Radio

Joe Biden And Kamala Harris Make 1st Joint Appearance

Aug 12, 2020
Originally published on August 13, 2020 3:10 pm

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Democrats formally introduced their presidential ticket today in Delaware. That is where Joe Biden and his newly named running mate, California Senator Kamala Harris, delivered remarks. Biden announced yesterday he was picking Harris to be the first woman of color on the ticket of a major political party. Here's what he had to say today.

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JOE BIDEN: And this morning, all across the nation, little girls woke up, especially little Black and brown girls who so often feel overlooked and undervalued in their communities, but today - today just maybe they're seeing themselves for the first time in a new way as the stuff of president and vice presidents.

KELLY: Let's bring in NPR political correspondent Asma Khalid to talk through all that was said and done at this event today.

Hey there, Asma.

ASMA KHALID, BYLINE: Hi, Mary Louise.

KELLY: So let's start with Kamala Harris. This is the first time we have heard from her as the vice presidential candidate. How did she do? What stood out to you?

KHALID: So I would say what really stood out to me was the forceful critique that she made against both President Trump individually and then the Trump administration. You know, she is a longtime prosecutor, and I would say that I think she was perhaps the most effective Democrat we have heard as of late prosecuting the case against how the Trump administration has handled the coronavirus pandemic. You know, I have heard Joe Biden criticize Trump quite a bit around COVID-19, many times actually in recent months, but I would say never as forcefully and as detailed and as sharp as what we heard from Harris today. She said the case against President Trump is really, in her view, open and shut. And she compared this pandemic with the Ebola outbreak during the Obama administration.

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KAMALA HARRIS: Six years ago, in fact, we had a different health crisis. It was called Ebola, and we all remember that pandemic. But you know what happened then? Barack Obama and Joe Biden did their job. Only two people in the United States died - two. That is what's called leadership. But compare that to the moment we find ourselves in now. When other countries are following the science, Trump pushed miracle cures he saw on Fox News.

KHALID: She also criticized how Trump has handled the economy. You know, she said that he had inherited the longest economic expansion in recent history from Barack Obama and Joe Biden. And then in her words, quote, "like everything else he inherited, he ran it into the ground." You know, I would say that one of the key components of a vice president is to do no harm, but it is also to prosecute the case against the other side. And I think today we got a glimpse of how Harris intends to do that.

KELLY: Let me turn you, Asma, to how Harris is a historic selection, the daughter of immigrants from Jamaica and India. And as we heard in that clip a moment ago from Joe Biden, that was front and center at tonight's event.

KHALID: That's right. I mean, this is really, I would say, a historic pick. I mean, there's really no way else to say this. And I think a lot of us as political journalists have described Kamala Harris at times as a very consensus choice. She was, in some ways, maybe the predictable choice that a lot of people had thought. But we should still I think not lose sense of the fact that really this is a historic moment. We've never had a woman of color at the top of the ticket. And Joe Biden gave a glimpse of what that all meant through, you know, the biographical description he gave of Kamala Harris. I think what was also interesting to me, though, is that Harris also connected this moment and what it all meant back to Joe Biden's background. You probably recall there was this really public skirmish that the two of them had on the debate stage when she was running for president about bussing and civil rights. And today, it was noteworthy to hear because she praised Joe Biden's record on civil rights.

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HARRIS: Today he takes his place in the ongoing story of America's march toward equality and justice as only - as the only - as the only who has served alongside the first Black president and has chosen the first Black woman as his running mate.

KHALID: I mean, that sort of I think really succinctly just sums up the historical nature of this all. You know, Biden certainly had faced a lot of pressure to choose a Black woman as his running mate, given some of the protests we've seen around the country calling for just better issues around policing and racial justice. I think today, to me, was an opportunity to hear both Biden and Harris speak to this issue of representation.

KELLY: Now, what about Joe Biden at the top of the ticket? What were the headlines of what he had to say tonight?

KHALID: So, Mary Louise, you know, I think a lot of us have heard that when Barack Obama asked Joe Biden to be his running mate that Biden asked him that he would always be the final voice in the room before a big decision. And today, he told us that he envisions a similar relationship with Kamala Harris.

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BIDEN: I asked Kamala to be the last voice in the room, to always tell me the truth, which she will, challenge my assumptions if she disagrees, ask the hard questions.

KHALID: I mean, so there you have it. There's kind of I think really an insight into how they might govern. You know, the other thing that Joe Biden mentioned was just a very quick criticism we saw from President Trump, the attacks on Kamala Harris as being, quote, "nasty" or whining. You know, we should note that the Trump campaign has said that in their view Joe Biden and Kamala Harris together make up the most extreme leftist ticket in American major party history. You know, this idea of radical socialism is something that Trump has tried to target Joe Biden with, and it hasn't stuck. And so we've now begun to see these attacks shift over to Kamala Harris.

KELLY: Have we learned any more, Asma, since yesterday about how this ticket came together, why Biden ended up choosing Harris as his running mate?

KHALID: You know, I did get some more insight. I will say I heard from folks within sort of close to this vetting process and whatnot that there were co-chairs of the VP selection committee who met with more than 20 candidates. And then that list was whittled down to 11. Amongst the overall pool of more than 20 candidates, they all had a uniform list of questions, including such stuff as, you know, what would your agenda be, what would your agenda that you want to focus on be? But one question I thought, Mary Louise, that was really interesting and perhaps, you know, kind of gives us a glimpse into the attacks they knew were likely to come, they were all asked, the women, what do you think President Trump's nickname for you would be, which I just thought was a very interesting question. You know, the women then amongst the 20 were whittled down to the 11. Joe Biden himself met with all 11 of them. And he really seemed to emphasize a sense that he was looking for a governing partner and that relationship was key for him. He has long talked about wanting to find somebody who was simpatico with him. And he has said that in Kamala Harris, he found that.

KELLY: Do we know, by the way, what Kamala Harris said Trump's nickname for her would be?

KHALID: We do not. I know. That is a question I was curious to know myself.

KELLY: I have the feeling we may learn soon (laughter). OK. Just one question before we let you go, which is how this might work going forward. Worth noting - this event was an unusual rally. There was nobody there except reporters, masks, social distancing, no crowd.

KHALID: No applause, no real hugs, no - you know, there was a sort of awkward photo - socially distanced photo shoot moment there at the end. You know, we don't have a clear sense of how they will continue to campaign together. I will say as we speak, though, they were holding a virtual fundraiser together. And so whether or not they can actually campaign in person, it'll be interesting to see how many events they're able to do together virtually.

KELLY: All right. Thank you, Asma.

KHALID: You're welcome.

KELLY: NPR political correspondent Asma Khalid. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.