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Wake Up To Politics - August 12, 2020

Wake Up To Politics - August 12, 2020
Wake Up To Politics - August 12, 2020

It’s Wednesday, August 12, 2020. Election Day is 83 days away. Have questions, comments, or tips? Email me.

Biden picks Kamala Harris as historic running mate

Joe Biden selected California Sen. Kamala Harris as his running mate on Tuesday, breaking barriers to elevate a former rival.

Harris, 55, is the first Black woman and the first Asian-American to join a national ticket. The fourth woman in U.S. history to be nominated for the presidency or vice presidency, she will be the first female occupant of either office if the Democrats are successful in ousting Donald Trump and Mike Pence this fall.

In a tweet announcing his decision, Biden called Harris “a fearless fighter for the little guy, and one of the country’s finest public servants.” In return, she tweeted that “he’s spent his life fighting for us” and pledged to “do what it takes to make him our Commander-in-Chief.”

The daughter of immigrants from Jamaica and India, Harris brings a compelling personal biography and weighty political record to the ticket. Harris has served as a U.S. Senator from California since 2017; she previously served as the state’s attorney general for six years and as San Francisco’s district attorney for seven.

Harris also provides balance to the Democratic ticket on racial, gender, and generational lines. More than two decades Biden’s junior, she is now primed to become a lasting force in the Democratic Party after his “transitional” run atop the party ends.

Ideologically, Biden selected a No. 2 with whom he is mostly in synch, a fellow centrist also known for her political pragmatism. In her short-lived presidential primary campaign last year, Harris attempted to court both the moderate and progressive wings of the party; she succeeded in neither and dropped out before voting began. However, Harris dazzled top Democrats with her skills on the stump — her campaign launch in Oakland, California, drew 20,000 attendees — and on the debate stage, most notably skewering Biden himself on their differences over busing as a tool to integrate public schools.

She also drew fire for her record as a prosecutor, attracting criticism from the left for her opposition to progressive policies such as charging police officers, marijuana legalization, and elimination of the death penalty.

Biden, a former vice president himself, had the option to pick a more liberal figure as his running mate, such as Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren; in opting for Harris, and picked a safer choice who is popular among the Democratic establishment and “simpatico” with his own views. Leading comfortably in most national and state polls, Biden went with a VP pick who is groundbreaking in some respects but is also expected to do little to shake his electoral prospects for November.

The Democratic ticket: Joe Biden and Kamala Harris on the primary debate stage. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

According to the Washington Post, Biden interviewed 11 finalists for the post, including a number of other Black women, including former national security adviser Susan Rice, California Rep. Karen Bass, and former Georgia state Rep. Stacey Abrams. Harris — who had been close with fellow state attorney general Beau Biden, the nominee’s late son — was one of the few contenders with whom Biden had a personal relationship.

St. Louis University professor Joel Goldstein, the pre-eminent scholar of the vice presidency in the nation, told Wake Up To Politics that Biden “put greater emphasis than most presidential candidates on how effective a governing partner he thought alternative selections would be,” leading to his choice of Harris.

“I believe he thought of his options she was the one who presented the best campaign and governing option with the fewest risks,” Goldstein added, noting that she had also been an “effective critic of the Trump administration” who had proven her ability to “energize important Democratic constituencies.”

President Trump was quick to respond to Biden’s announcement, telling reporters in a news conference that Harris was his “No 1. draft pick.” The president’s re-election campaign labeled the Democratic vice-presidential pick “Phony Kamala,” emphasizing issues where she split with Biden in the primaries, such as her support for the “Green New Deal” and “Medicare for All.”

“Phony Kamala Harris has no charisma, is a far-left radical, is almost universally disliked, was rejected by Democrat voters, is inauthentic, and called Joe Biden a racist,” Trump campaign adviser Boris Epshteyn told Wake Up To Politics. “She is a terrible choice by a terrible candidate.” (Harris has not called Biden a racist, explicitly stating otherwise in their debate faceoff last June.)  

But, according to Politico, Trump campaign hands privately acknowledge Harris’ appeal and the likelihood that she will “help Biden win over women and people of color,” minimizing a series of racial gaffes that Trump has sought to highlight. Just as the GOP has “found little success in tarnishing Biden,” Politico noted that the party’s line of attack against Harris — that she is too politically extreme — was identical to the playbook they had planned to use against other potential VP contenders, “perhaps indicating after months of research on Harris they don’t have much else to criticize.”

With her selection, both major-party tickets are effectively set and the home stretch of the 2020 election — just more than 80 days away — begins.

Biden and Harris will appear together today for the first time in Biden’s hometown of Wilmington, Delaware, before being formally nominated during the Democratic National Convention next week.

Tuesday’s primaries: Results to know

GA-14: “Marjorie Taylor Greene has won the GOP nomination for a deep red congressional seat in Georgia despite widespread condemnation from party leaders over her videos where she expressed racist, Islamophobic and anti-Semitic views”

“Greene, who is also a believer in the QAnon conspiracy theory, defeated neurosurgeon John Cowan in a primary runoff election on Tuesday for the deep-red Northwest Georgia district, where the GOP nomination is tantamount to a seat in the House.” (Politico)

MN-05: “Representative Ilhan Omar of Minnesota fended off a well-funded primary challenger on Tuesday, ensuring a clean sweep of re-election fights for the group of first-term Democratic congresswomen of color known as the Squad and sending a message to Washington about the staying power of the party’s new progressive voices.”

“Ms. Omar, who made history in 2018 by becoming the first Somali-American to be elected to Congress, as well as the first naturalized citizen of African birth and the first woman of color from Minnesota to do so, secured the victory after spending her first two years in the Washington spotlight.” (New York Times)


All times Eastern.

President Donald Trump will participate in an event on “getting America’s children safely back to school” at 3 p.m.

The Senate will convene at 11 a.m. No roll call votes are expected.

The House is not in session.

The Supreme Court is on summer recess.

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris will deliver remarks together in Wilmington, Delaware, in the afternoon and participate in a virtual grassroots fundraiser in the evening.

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