Biden, Harris attack Trump over historic vice president pick introduction

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WILMINGTON, DEL. – Joe Biden and Kamala Harris on Wednesday launched an aggressive attack on the character and performance of US President Donald Trump, as they defended their candidacy for the first time as candidates for election. Biden, a 77-year-old white man, understood the importance of nominating the first black woman to a major party’s presidential ticket, but he also focused on other attributes Harris brings to the ticket. He hailed the California senator, the 55-year-old former prosecutor who a year ago denounced Biden in a primary debate as the perfect woman to help him defeat Trump and then lead a country facing crises in triplicate: a pandemic, a wounded economy and long simmering racism.

Harris, said Biden at a high school in her hometown of Wilmington, Delaware, is “smart, she’s tough, she’s got experience, she’s a proven fighter for the backbone of this country.”

“Kamala knows how to rule. She knows how to make difficult calls. She is ready to do this job from day one, ”he said.

Reflecting the coronavirus pandemic, the two contestants took to the stage in protective masks in a high school gymnasium with relatively few participants, not in a room filled with enthusiastic supporters as would normally be the case. The two spoke without a mask but did not physically hug each other.

Biden praised her experience in vigorously questioning Trump administration officials in the Senate and stressed the historical nature of her choice, noting that she was the daughter of immigrants from India and Jamaica.

“This morning, across the country, little girls woke up – especially little black and brown girls, who so often feel neglected and undervalued in their communities. But today, today, maybe, they see themselves for the first time in a new way, ”said Biden.

Harris sat down a few feet from Biden, listening without his face mask.

Taking the stage after him, she took a look at some of the gender criticisms she faced throughout the Democratic primary, saying she was “aware of all the ambitious women before me, including the sacrifice, determination and resilience make my presence here today still possible. She then embarked on an attack on Trump, criticizing him for his lack of leadership on the coronavirus pandemic.

“This is a moment of real consequence for America. Everything that matters to us – our economy, our health, our children, the kind of country we live in – is at stake, ”she said.

Biden and Harris showed a clear affection for each other, with Biden calling her an “honorary Biden” and Harris offering an emotional tribute to her son Beau, who she was friends with when the two served as attorneys general. Biden seemed overwhelmed with emotion as Harris spoke of Beau, who died in 2015, as “the best of us” and a man who modeled himself on his father.

She signaled that she would offer a vigorous defense of Biden’s credentials on race and civil rights issues, although she made headlines for assaulting him for his past opposition to federally mandated buses during a primary debate last year.

Noting her own vice-presidency under President Barack Obama, she said he “takes his place in the ongoing history of America’s march to equality and justice” as the only person “who has served sides of the first black president and chose the first black woman as his running partner. ”

Historical or not, the event was not without challenges. It started an hour late and the high school gymnasium the contestants spoke in lost its air conditioning after a power outage in the area. While most cable news networks broadcast the event live, the live online broadcast cut only a few minutes from Biden’s remarks.

The surreal nature of the scene wasn’t just a woman of color stepping into the role that could carry her to the White House, but doing so in a nearly empty gym. Masked journalists almost outnumbered campaign assistants and candidate family members in a grim reminder of a coronavirus pandemic that has killed 165,000 Americans, while leading to depression-level unemployment and national deficits in the country. WWII level.

In any other presidential election, the vice presidential picks are met with throngs of worshipers, and Harris, given his profile, almost certainly could have expected an even more enthusiastic reception. Around 100 supporters stood outside the gymnasium waving signs ahead of his arrival on Wednesday, with no hope of being allowed in.

The event was the first of a deployment that Biden advisers say blends the historic nature of Harris’ selection with the realities of the 2020 campaign and the gravity of the country’s circumstances. Later Wednesday, the pair were leading an online fundraiser. They will continue to campaign together in the framework of the virtual convention of the Democrats which will take place from Monday to next Thursday.

Harris has been considered a favorite throughout Biden’s search, and she has been a regular backup activist and fundraiser for him since he became the alleged candidate.

They’ll still have to cover the differences exposed in the main campaign, from Harris’s initial support for a single-payer health insurance system and the Green New Deal to his deeply personal debate against Biden over his opposition to the federally-mandated bus. . integrate public schools in the 1970s.

Trump seized on this dynamic, calling Harris “Phony Kamala” and presenting it as the latest evidence that Biden, a five-decade veteran of the Democratic establishment, is captive to his party’s left flank.

White House adviser Kellyanne Conway on Wednesday insisted Harris was “really on the radical left” and suggested the senator would be hard pressed not to outdo Biden, whose age Conway frequently mocks. and aptitude for the office. “He’s eclipsed by almost everyone he comes in contact with,” she said.

Biden’s campaign appeared to be prepared for the counteroffensive, noting that just weeks ago, Trump said Harris would be a “good choice.” And campaign finance records show Trump contributed as a private citizen to the Harris Attorney General’s campaigns in California. Harris was elected to the Senate in 2016.

Harris no longer supports a single-payer health insurance system, instead aligning himself with Biden’s proposal to add a public insurance option to compete with private plans. Still, Harris memorable raised his hand during a Democratic primary debate when candidates were asked if they could support a system that eliminated private health insurance completely.

She broadly endorsed the Green New Deal, progressives’ most ambitious set of proposals to tackle the climate crisis, but she did not make it an anchor for her presidential bid. Biden moved left on his climate proposals during the 2020 campaign but did not fully embrace the Green New Deal.

In Washington, Harris has advocated for an overhaul of the criminal justice system, stepping up efforts since the murder of George Floyd by a white Minneapolis officer in May. And she called for broad national programs to benefit the working and middle class. But she took the heat for some of her aggressive positions as a local attorney in the San Francisco area and for not prosecuting bank executives in the wake of the 2008 financial collapse.

This mixed record could have unpredictable effects in a national campaign.

Biden is betting that, overall, Harris has a broad appeal that will solidify all of the weaknesses of black women, an anchor in the Democratic Party, and other voters of color, while increasing white Liberal turnout and gaining support. independents and republican whites. voters who criticized Trump.

Karen Finney, a prominent black Democratic Party strategist, pointed to the immediate success of the fundraiser as proof that Biden’s stance on Harris is better than Trump’s. Act Blue, the online fundraising arm of the Democrats, reported cashing in nearly $ 11 million within hours of Biden’s announcement, and the Biden campaign expected a massive fundraising gain Wednesday night’s fundraising, potentially rivaling previous events of Obama and former 2020 rival Senator Elizabeth Warren.

“We won’t get the visual,” Finney said, referring to the realities of a campaign in the coronavirus era. “But you can already feel the energy and the excitement. ”

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Barrow reported from Atlanta. Associated Press reporter Aamer Madhani contributed from Washington.

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