The ticket is Joseph Robinette Biden and Kamala Devi Harris. Former Obama strategist David Axelrod, who made it very clear Harris was not his choice, explains why Biden picked her for this historic selection.
It is a measure of these extraordinary times that Joe Biden's historic choice for vice president was also the most conventional.
In choosing Kamala Harris, Biden selected the candidate who had been the frontrunner among political handicappers and betting markets for months. The senator from California fulfills Biden's pledge to name a woman and responds to the expectation that he would pick the first woman of color ever to serve on a national ticket.
Pressure to make such a choice has been building since the killing of George Floyd under the knee of a Minneapolis police officer triggered nationwide protests over racial inequity. And beyond the historic nature of Harris' selection, many supporters argued that the presence of a person of color on the ticket was necessary to motivate Black voters. Tepid turnout by Black voters in 2016 helped doom Hillary Clinton in her race against Donald Trump.
Harris is a charismatic and telegenic politician. And as a US senator and recent presidential candidate, Harris also meets another important test for Biden. People familiar with research the campaign undertook to inform its decision told me voters viewed her as among the most qualified to be president on Day One -- a key positive, given Biden's status as potentially the oldest politician to ever serve as president.
She is also familiar with the maelstrom of a national campaign, having spent a year running for president, albeit unsuccessfully. Though she was at times less than sure-footed in dealing with incoming criticism from the media and opponents, she understands the pace and nature of it, which will only intensify in a fall race against Trump.
One of the principal tasks of a running mate is to play a lead role in bringing the case against the other ticket, particularly in the vice-presidential debate.
A former prosecutor, Harris is known as a fierce interrogator on Capitol Hill and proved herself, at times, to be a sharp-edged debater during the campaign. Biden knows this well. He famously was her target in the first primary debate 14 months ago, when she theatrically confronted him over his position on mandatory school busing in the 1970s.
That exchange, in which Harris played up her own experience as a child who benefited from busing, briefly vaulted her to the top echelon of candidates in polling. It also was a source of friction with Biden and his family that could have upended his choice.
In the end, Biden seriously considered others but returned to Harris as the "do no harm" candidate, unlikely to thrill or outrage many. She may not seem the most comfortable fit as a governing partner, a quality Biden said he was seeking, but Harris was viewed as the safest pick to win in November.
By naming her, Biden likely also has set the dynamics for the 2024 election, not just the current one. The former Vice President has not said he would stand down after one term, though given the fact that he would be 81 by the next election, it is widely assumed he would not run.
This also will place Harris in not only an historic but a historically challenging position if the Biden-Harris ticket wins. She immediately would be installed as heir apparent and putative frontrunner for the Democratic presidential nomination four years from now.
Imagine a world where a woman of both Black and Desi heritage is the "safe, conventional" choice to put on an American Presidential ticket. It's a world where Donald Trump is currently destroying to country on a daily basis, too.
I can already tell that Harris was the right choice based on the immediate reactions from the Trump camp, that Harris is a communist, an "anti-Catholic", and an authoritarian, attacks all made on Biden that have failed to stick and won't touch Harris either.
I think it's going to not only fulfill the oldest saw in the veep playbook -- "First do no harm to the top of the ticket" -- but it's going to help Biden more than the pundits are saying. The running mate gets to throw the elbows like Biden did in 2008, and Kamala Harris is absolutely up for the task compared to Mike Pence.
She's going to cut them so badly they won't bleed until she says so.
New Tag, Biden-Harris.