WASHINGTON: Kamala Harris, 55, became the first Black woman to be nominated for a presidential ticket when Democratic candidate Joe Biden selected her as his running mate for the 2020 election.

“Joe Biden here. Big news: I have chosen Kamala Harris as my running mate. Together, with you, we are going to beat Trump,” Biden announced in a brief message emailed to his supporters on Tuesday afternoon.

On Wednesday, US President Donald Trump, who is running for a second term in November, claimed that it would be easy to beat her in the election.

“Kamala Harris started strong in the Democrat primaries, and finished weak, ultimately fleeing the race with almost zero support,” he wrote in a tweet. “That’s the kind of opponent everyone dreams of!”

Harris is also the first person of Indian descent to be nominated for national office by a major party, and only the fourth woman in history to be chosen for a presidential ticket.

Kamala Devi Harris, born in Oakland, California, is the daughter of Shyamala Gopalan, a breast-cancer scientist from Tamil Nadu, India and Donald Harris, a Stanford University emeritus professor of economics, from British Jamaica.

“I do not think that will be a significant problem,” said Dr Farhat Haq, who teaches politics at Monmouth College, Illinois, when asked if Harris’ Indian heritage would be a cause of concern for Pakistani American voters. “Given her progressive bent, she would be critical of the Modi government.”

Khalid Tanvir, a shop owner in Springfield, Virginia, said as a Pakistani American voter, “my first concern is whether she would be good for us here in America. Her Indian heritage is not a major concern for me.”

The New York Times, which usually endorses Democratic presidential candidates, noted that Harris “brings to the race a far more vigorous campaign style than Mr Biden’s.” The paper also claimed that most Americans would find her “raw political electricity and family story inspiring.”

Harris, a member of the US Senate since 2017, launched her own presidential bid early last year but it disintegrated when she failed to raise enough funds to sustain her campaign.

Several US media outlets predicted that Harris could run for the White House when Biden completes his tenure. Biden too served two terms as vice president under President Obama, from 2008 to 2016.

Some outlets also predicted that Harris would attract women voters because she has vigorously campaigned for women issues during her political career. President Trump disagreed.

“The suburban housewives will be voting for me. They want safety and are thrilled that I ended the long running programme where low-income housing would invade their neighborhood,” he wrote in another tweet.

Trump also tweeted video links, showing Biden and Harris attacking each other during the primary. The tweets caused some media outlets to reject Trump’s claim that Harris was not a tough opponent. They speculated that Trump saw her as a formidable foe otherwise he would not have sent out four tweets in three hours, targeting her.

The pro-Trump Fox News, however, attacked Harris as a “one-dimensional” candidate who would alienate white voters. Some Fox News anchors also made fun of her Indian name, Kamala, while others described her as a supporter of the “radical Harris also participated in nationwide protests this spring against racism and police brutality. The protests, inspired by the death of an African American man in police custody, created a new political awareness among black and Latino Americans.

The Biden campaign hopes that having Harris on the ticket would encourage them to vote for the Democrats.

Published in Dawn, August 13th, 2020


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