Kamala Harris made history on Saturday with her election as Joe Biden’s vice president, becoming the first woman, first Black American and first Asian American to win the second highest U.S. office.
Harris, 56, is widely seen as an obvious candidate for the Democratic Party nomination in 2024 should Biden, who will be 78 at their inauguration on Jan. 20, decide not to seek a second term. She hasn’t weighed in publicly on the speculation.
A US senator from California, Harris has a track record of shattering glass ceilings. She served as San Francisco’s first female district attorney and was California’s first woman of color to be elected attorney general.
Her background in criminal justice could help a Biden administration tackle the issues of racial equality and policing after the country was swept by protests this year. She is expected to be a top adviser on judicial nominations.
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As the Senate’s only Black woman, Harris emerged this year as a leading voice on racial justice and police reform after Minneapolis police killed African-American man George Floyd in May. She marched with protesters on the streets of Washington and won over some liberal skeptics.
Harris, whose mother and father emigrated from India and Jamaica, respectively, had her sights set on becoming the first woman U.S. president when she competed against Biden and others for their party’s 2020 nomination.
She dropped out of the race last December after a campaign hurt by her wavering views on healthcare and indecision about embracing her past as a prosecutor.
Biden looked beyond some of the harsh words Harris had for him in that campaign to name her his running mate in August. She has proven to be a valuable and polished stand-in, appealing especially to women, progressives and voters of color, all critical to the party’s election hopes.
Harris, who developed a deep fundraising network during her Senate and White House bids, has been instrumental to Biden’s raking in record sums of money in the closing months of the campaign. Her selection sparked a burst of excitement in the Democratic base and among the party’s donors.
Prior to her selection, several Biden aides say that Harris was able to put to rest concerns among some in the former vice president’s camp that she would be too personally ambitious to make a trustworthy partner.
“Joe and I were raised in a very similar way,” Harris said of Biden at her October debate against Vice President Mike Pence. “We were raised with values that are about hard work, about the value and the dignity of public service and about the importance of fighting for the dignity of all people.”
Asked on “60 Minutes” last month why, given Biden’s age, he believed Harris would be ready to step into the presidency if something happened to him, the presidential candidate rapidly fired off five reasons.
“Number one, her values. Number two, she is smart as a devil, and number three, she has a backbone like a ramrod. Number four, she is really principled. And number five, she has had significant experience in the largest state in the Union in running the justice department that’s only second in size to the United States Justice Department. And obviously, I hope that never becomes a question,” he said.
Harris is married to attorney Douglas Emhoff, who has been a fixture on the campaign trail.