WHO IS KAMALA HARRIS?

Written by Lee Yun Ze

On 11 August, after much speculation, Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic candidate in the upcoming 2020 US Presidential Elections, has chosen senator Kamala Harris as his vice-presidential candidate pick. 

 

Who is she?

Kamala Harris, 55, is currently the senator for the state of California. She was born in Oakland, California to immigrant parents of Indian and Jamaican heritage. Her mother was a cancer researcher at the University of California, Berkeley, while her father is a professor emeritus of economics at Stanford University.

Growing up, Harris had previously stated that she identified as both an Indian-American as well as an African-American, but now prefers to see herself simply as ‘American’. She later attended Howard University, one of the nation’s top historically black colleges and universities.

After attaining her law degree, Harris rose as a prosecutor to become San Francisco’s district attorney in 2004, and later California’s top law enforcement role as Attorney General in 2011. As a top prosecutor, Harris’ career has been defined by her positions on criminal justice, including her “tough on crime” stance.

In 2017, Harris was elected as California’s junior senator, making her the only African-American woman in the U.S. Senate. In early-2019, she launched her own campaign for the 2020 presidential elections, and targeted Biden’s policies in key debates. Harris eventually withdrew her campaign earlier this year due to lackluster support from the Democratic base.      

                                  

What are people saying?

Donald Trump has responded on Twitter to Biden’s pick by calling Harris “the kind of opponent everyone dreams of”, with reference to her failed 2020 Democratic primary campaign.

Trump attacked Harris’ questioning of Brett Kavanaugh during the latter’s 2018 Supreme Court confirmation hearing, calling it “nasty to a level that was just a horrible thing”. Most recently, Trump seemed to stoke a birther conspiracy theory surrounding Harris’ birthplace and presidential eligibility due to her parent’s immigrant background.

Among Democrats, the response to Biden’s selection of Harris seems to be initially positive. In the 24 hours after Biden’s announcement of Harris as his pick, the Biden campaign reportedly raised $26 million in donations, with among these coming from 150,000 first-time contributors. 

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