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Selasa, 11 Agustus 2020

Joe Biden's VP pick: what you need to know about Kamala Harris - Sydney Morning Herald

Washington: US Senator Kamala Harris has made history by becoming the first woman of colour nominated to a major party’s presidential ticket. But she is a woman of many firsts.

It’s not the first time the 55-year-old has broken a glass ceiling or two - she was the first black woman to serve as San Francisco's District Attorney; the first to serve as California’s attorney-general; and the first American of South Asian descent elected to the US Senate.

Senator Kamala Harris, a Democrat from California, at an event in 2019.

Senator Kamala Harris, a Democrat from California, at an event in 2019.Credit:Bloomberg

Harris nonetheless has a tendency to play down being “the first” of many, and during her failed campaign for Democratic presidential nomination last year, she also questioned whether it was inconceivable that a woman of colour could win enough votes to get the nod.

Now, she’s one step closer to the top job.

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Activism runs in her blood

Harris’ mother, Shyamala Gopalan, emigrated from India and would later become a breast-cancer scientist. Her father, Donald Harris, emigrated from Jamaica in 1961, and is a Stanford University emeritus professor of economics.

The pair met as young activists in the civil rights movement and Harris has fondly recalled being taken to numerous marches as a child with her sister Maya, which she says inspired her to a life of public service.

“I grew up with a stroller's-eye view of the civil rights movement, and often I joke that as a child, I was surrounded by adults marching and shouting for this thing called justice,” she once wrote.

Kamala Harris with friend Gwen Whitfield at a 1982 anti-apartheid protest during her freshman year at Howard University in Washington.

Kamala Harris with friend Gwen Whitfield at a 1982 anti-apartheid protest during her freshman year at Howard University in Washington.

She’s a law-and-order running mate

If Biden wanted someone to help counter President Donald Trump's law-and-order pitch, then Harris is a solid choice.

After graduating from Howard University and the University of California, the senator cut her teeth prosecuting child sexual assault cases in the Alameda County District Attorney's office and later served as San Francisco's district attorney.

In 2011, she was elected California's attorney-general, where she developed a reputation as a shrewd enforcer of the law, with one of her more contentious policies involving a plan to prosecute parents for their children’s truancy.

Kamala Harris as a child at her mother's lab in Berkeley, California.

Kamala Harris as a child at her mother's lab in Berkeley, California.Credit:AP

She's also championed far less punitive reforms, such as a program in San Francisco that offered first-time drug offenders education and work opportunities instead of jail sentences.

She’s had biffo with Biden

Who could forget that headline-grabbing moment in the Democratic debates last year when Harris slammed a shell-shocked Biden for working with segregationists in the Senate?

For the knockout blow, she even added her own personal history, telling Biden: "There was a little girl in California who was part of the second class to integrate her public schools, and she was bused to school every day. And that little girl was me.”

While Harris’ campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination ended up fizzling, her experience on the stump, her law enforcement leadership, and her record of elections in California make her a battle-tested candidate to go head-to-head against the Trump-Pence ticket.

Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden speaks with his running mate Senator Kamala Harris.

Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden speaks with his running mate Senator Kamala Harris.

She was close to Biden’s late son Beau

Biden didn’t give much away during his search for a running mate, other than to say he wanted someone who could become president “at a moment’s notice” and someone with whom he got along.

Harris fits the bill because she was particularly close to Biden’s late son, Beau, who served as the Delaware attorney-general while Harris was attorney-general for California.

Beau Biden died of brain cancer in 1995 and is referred to by Harris as “"incredible friend and colleague”.

In fact, it was this friendship that left Joe Biden surprised she went for his jugular at the Democratic debates. “I wasn’t prepared for the person coming after me the way she came after me,” Biden told CNN last year.

She’s left, but not too left

As a senator, Harris has a record of progressive policies, but has positioned herself as more of a moderate compared with Democratic colleagues such as Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.

She supports the Second Amendment, which gives Americans the right to bear arms, but has called for “smart” gun safety laws such as universal background checks on gun purchases and a renewal of the assault weapons ban.

She has also backed the legalisation of marijuana, officiated San Francisco’s first same-sex wedding in 2013, and is a recent convert to bail reform, noting on Twitter last year that “too often poor people sit in jail because they don’t have the money to pay bail, while someone with the same offence but money in their back pockets gets out.”

She represents generational change

Biden had no shortage of highly qualified candidates from which to choose, including Warren, a Massachusetts senator and policy wonk; Karen Bass, a congresswoman from California; Keisha Lance Bottoms, the Atlanta mayor who rose to prominence during the race riots that followed George Floyd's death this year; and Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, who impressed the Biden campaign with her handling of coronavirus in her state.

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris shake hands after a Democratic presidential primary debate in September last year.

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris shake hands after a Democratic presidential primary debate in September last year.Credit:AP

Harris, however, has the experience, but is still more than two decades younger than the Democratic presumptive nominee.

This is crucial: if elected, Biden would be 78 by inauguration day, making him the oldest president in US history.

Kamala, at the age of 55, is younger, feistier, and far more energetic than the man Trump likes to call "Sleepy Joe". And she now has an immediate stepping stone to the White House, as Biden is unlikely to recontest in 2024.

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https://news.google.com/__i/rss/rd/articles/CBMifWh0dHBzOi8vd3d3LnNtaC5jb20uYXUvd29ybGQvbm9ydGgtYW1lcmljYS9qb2UtYmlkZW4tcy12cC1waWNrLXdoYXQteW91LW5lZWQtdG8ta25vdy1hYm91dC1rYW1hbGEtaGFycmlzLTIwMjAwODEyLXA1NWt2ci5odG1s0gF9aHR0cHM6Ly9hbXAuc21oLmNvbS5hdS93b3JsZC9ub3J0aC1hbWVyaWNhL2pvZS1iaWRlbi1zLXZwLXBpY2std2hhdC15b3UtbmVlZC10by1rbm93LWFib3V0LWthbWFsYS1oYXJyaXMtMjAyMDA4MTItcDU1a3ZyLmh0bWw?oc=5

2020-08-12 00:30:00Z
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