US Sen. Kamala Harris of California is “very much in contention” to become the running mate for presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, the former vice president said Thursday morning in a CBS News interview during the virtual convention of the National Association of Black Journalists and the National Association of Hispanic Journalists.
In response to a question about comments reportedly made by a member of his search committee for a running mate on the Democratic ticket, Biden said Harris hasn’t been dismissed from consideration and that he isn’t angry over Harris’ challenges to him during Democratic presidential debates.
“Now, I don’t hold grudges. I’ve made it really clear that I don’t hold grudges. I think it was a debate. It was as simple as that. And she’s very much in contention,” he said.
Speculation that Harris might be Biden’s choice as vice president increased after the presidential candidate held notes during a news conference that had Harris’ name written across the top, that were visible seen in a widely published Associated Press photo. Harris’ s name was followed by five talking points that read: “Do not hold grudges.” “Campaigned with me & Jill.” “Talented.” “Great help to campaign.” “Great respect for her.”
Widespread talk continues about who the former vice president will pick to be his running mate, in what is commonly called the “veepstakes.” Harris is among numerous presumed contenders in the race for the selection, according to many political observers and partisans.
Biden pledged earlier in the campaign to pick a woman as his running mate, and advocates have been calling for his choice to be a woman of color.
In addition to Harris, the three other African-American woman said to be under consideration are former national security adviser under President Barak Obama Susan Rice, US Rep. Val Demings of Florida, and US Rep. Karen Bass of California. US Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, who also ran for the Democratic party presidential nomination, and Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer are among those still on the list, according to published reports.
On Martin Luther King Jr. Day 2019, Harris announced her candidacy for the Democratic presidential nomination, but later dropped out of the race and has supported Biden.
In 2016, Harris, who identifies herself as black, was the first South Asian American and second African-American woman to be elected to the U.S. Senate, according to published reports. Earlier, she was elected district attorney of San Francisco in 2003 and attorney general of California in 2011.
The 55-year-old Harris has faced controversy over some of her actions in her roles as district attorney and attorney general. In 2006 she put in place an anti-truancy program designed to combat Sam Francisco’s homicide and incarceration rates among school-age youth. Harris announced she would prosecute parents of chronically truant elementary students with penalties of up to a $2,500 fine and a year in jail. In 2008, Harris issued citations to six parents whose children who were absent at least 50 days, according to published reports.
Also as San Francisco district attorney, Harris, who has since supported legalization of marijuana, oversaw more than 1,900 marijuana convictions, according to a September 2019 report by the Mercury News. Former DA lawyers and defense attorneys who worked on drug cases said most defendants arrested on low-level marijuana possession weren’t incarcerated, and a few dozen people went to state prison for marijuana convictions under Harris’ tenure, the report said.
Although vice presidential picks have rarely been seen as decisive in presidential electoral outcomes, the controversies from earlier in Harris’ career might cause voters on the left to decide not to vote given this year’s surge in political activism over police brutality and Black Lives Matter protests, critics say.
Harris, a lawyer, attended Howard University and the University of California’s Hastings College of the Law. Harris was born in Oakland, California. Her mother was a Tamil Indian from the Besant Nagar in Chennai, Tamil Nadu who emigrated from India in 1960 to pursue a doctorate in endocrinology at the University of California Berkeley. Her father, Donald Harris, is a Stanford University Emeritus Professor of Economics, who emigrated from Jamaica in 1961 for graduate study in economics at UC Berkeley.
Harris grew up attending both a Black Baptist church and a Hindu temple. As a child, Harris used to visit her extended family in Chennai and was said to have been close to her maternal grandfather P.V. Gopalan, a career civil servant with India’s federal government.