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Who is Kamala Harris? A look at the Democrats’ vice presidential nominee

Former Vice President Joe Biden has chosen Kamala Harris as a running mate in the 2020 election against President Donald Trump

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In this Oct. 2, 2019, file photo, then Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., listens during a gun safety forum in Las Vegas. Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden has chosen Harris as his running mate.

John Locher, Associated Press

SALT LAKE CITY — Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden announced Tuesday that Sen. Kamala Harris would be his vice presidential nominee.

“I have the great honor to announce that I’ve picked Kamala Harris — a fearless fighter for the little guy, and one of the country’s finest public servants — as my running mate,” Biden said on Twitter Tuesday afternoon.

Harris said Tuesday she was honored to become the Democratic nominee and was ready to help Biden become the next president.

“Joe 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,” Harris wrote on Twitter after the announcement.

Harris was the first Black woman to become attorney general of California — with the largest state criminal justice system in the country — and was the second Black woman ever elected to the U.S. Senate, taking office in January 2017.

She ended her own 2020 presidential primary campaign in early December 2019 and endorsed Biden this past March.

The 55-year-old senator is the daughter of immigrant parents, her father from Jamaica and mother from India. This makes her the first Asian American vice presidential candidate in the country’s history.

Harris had previously said it would be an honor to be on the ticket, but had not publicly campaigned for the position. Polling from Harris’ own 2020 presidential campaign showed she did well in Democratic strongholds, among Black and liberal women and young people, according to The New York Times.

Susan Rice, a former Obama national security adviser and rumored short list contender for Biden’s running-mate, congratulated Harris moments after the announcement.

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

Sen. Bernie Sanders said Harris “understands what it takes to stand up for working people” and to “fight for health care for all.”

Sanders ran as a progressive Democrat in the 2020 primary and was Biden’s longest standing competitor in the race, the pair reflecting different ideologies for the party. He dropped out of the race in early April and endorsed the former vice president shortly thereafter.

Harris and Biden previously sparred on the Democratic debate stage last year. One of Harris’ viral moments from the debate featured her attack on Biden, as Deseret.com reported. Harris asked Biden “to answer for his role in legislation that criminal justice experts say helped lay the groundwork for the mass incarceration that has devastated America’s Black communities,” according to The New York Times.

Harris said to Biden, “I do not believe you are a racist ... but it was hurtful to hear you talk about the reputations of two United States senators who built their reputations and career on the segregation of race in this country.”

What’s next?

Should all shape out, Harris will debate Vice President Mike Pence in Salt Lake City, for the first vice president debate on Oct. 7. As the Deseret News reported, the debate will likely have a live audience.

Of note

  • Harris previously served as district attorney for San Francisco and Attorney General of California.
  • Harris grew up in Oakland, California.
  • Harris lives in Los Angeles with her husband, Doug Emhoff, She is the stepmother to Ella and Cole Emhoff, according to her Senate website.
  • She has an undergraduate degree from Howard University and a law degree from the University of California, Hastings.
  • Harris raised her national profile after she criticized President Donald Trump for his nominee choices, including Brett Kavanaugh during the Supreme Court confirmation hearings.
  • Former President Barack Obama celebrated Harris back in 2013, calling her “tough” and “brilliant.”