WILMINGTON (Delaware) • Democratic White House hopeful Joe Biden introduced his vice-presidential candidate Kamala Harris at their first joint appearance as an inspiring woman who would help him to “rebuild this country”.
Accusing President Donald Trump of failing to lead during the coronavirus crisis, Mr Biden on Wednesday said that he and Ms Harris would fix “the mess that President Trump and Vice-President Pence have created at home and abroad”.
Ms Harris said Mr Biden, who was vice-president under president Barack Obama, had recognised the critical moment being faced by the country by picking her to be the first black woman and Asian American on a major-party US presidential ticket.
“Today, he takes his place in the ongoing story of America’s march towards equality and justice as the only person who served alongside the first black president, and has chosen the first black woman as his running mate,” said Ms Harris, a US senator from California.
Nearly nine out of 10 Democrats approved of Ms Harris as Mr Biden’s pick, a Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Wednesday showed.
Ms Harris said she had long admired Mr Biden’s commitment to his family and country, and she described him as ready to meet the challenges created by Mr Trump’s failures in handling the pandemic and its economic consequences, as well as racial unrest.
“This is a moment of real consequence for America. Everything we care about – our economy, our health, our kids, the kind of country we live in – it’s all on the line.
“America is crying out for leadership, yet we have a president who cares more about himself than the people who elected him, a president who is making every challenge we face even more difficult to solve,” Ms Harris said.
The speech, delivered in a Delaware high school gymnasium near Mr Biden’s home, featured no cheering crowds. The two candidates wore masks as they arrived and kept their social distance on a stage flanked by state flags.
The joint appearance came just days before Mr Biden will formally accept the Democratic presidential nomination at next week’s party convention, which will take place largely as a virtual event due to Covid-19.
The Republican convention, at which Mr Trump is set to be nominated to seek a second four-year term, follows a week later and kicks off a 10-week sprint to election day on Nov 3.
In choosing Ms Harris, Mr Biden has picked a former rival for the nomination whose most memorable campaign moment came during a televised debate when she criticised his past position on using bussing to integrate schools and talked about its effect on her as a little girl.
Mr Biden said her addition to the ticket sent a powerful message to girls across America.
“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 – today, just maybe, they’re seeing themselves in the first time in a new way. As the stuff of presidents, and vice-presidents,” Mr Biden said.
Mr Trump, who has unleashed sexist attacks on Ms Harris, called her “a very risky pick” at a news conference as he referred to “horrible things” she had said about Mr Biden during the primary campaign, suggesting those words would haunt the ticket.
He also defended his administration’s response to the coronavirus, citing the number of tests that have been administered and bragging about the government’s efforts to ramp up production of ventilators to help gravely ill patients.
REUTERS, NYTIMES, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE