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Kamala Harris set to make history as first female US Vice President

Harris will also be the first black person to be elected to the position.

File image of Kamala Harris speaking at the end of last month.
File image of Kamala Harris speaking at the end of last month.
Image: SIPA USA/PA Images

DEMOCRAT KAMALA HARRIS is set to make history by becoming the first woman elected as Vice President of the United States. 

Joe Biden has been projected to win the presidency and become the 46th president of the United States after widening his lead in Pennsylvania against Donald Trump, securing the state’s 20 electoral votes and surpassing the necessary 270 to win.

Harris, Biden’s running-mate, will join him in the White House as the first woman elected Vice President in the country’s history.

Harris (56) has already blazed a trail as California’s first black attorney general and the first woman of South-Asian heritage elected to the US Senate.

But winning the vice presidency, a heartbeat away from leading the United States, is the most significant barrier she has broken yet.

If 77-year-Biden chooses to serve only a single four-year term in office Harris would be favoured to win the Democratic presidential nomination in 2024. 

That could give her a shot at continuing to make history – this time as the first female President of the United States.

“My mother raised me to see what could be, unburdened by what has been,” Harris wrote on Twitter last month.

Since being tapped as Biden’s running mate in August, she has slammed President Donald Trump on his handling of the Covid-19 pandemic, but also his racism, and handling of issues like the economy and immigration.

Background 

election-2020-biden Kamala Harris and Joe Biden yesterday in Delaware. Source: Carolyn Kaster

Harris was born in California in 1964 to parents who immigrated to the United States – her father from Jamaica and her mother from India. 

Her diploma from the historically black Howard University in Washington was the start of a steady rise that took her from prosecutor, to two elected terms as San Francisco’s district attorney and then California’s attorney general in 2010.

However, Harris’s self-description as a “progressive prosecutor” has been seized upon by critics who say she fought to uphold wrongful convictions and opposed certain reforms in California, like a bill requiring that the attorney general probe shootings involving police.

“Time after time, when progressives urged her to embrace criminal justice reforms as a district attorney and then the state’s attorney general, Ms Harris opposed them or stayed silent,” law professor Lara Bazelon wrote in the New York Times last year.

dc-post-election-atmosphere-in-washington-d-c People wearing Joe Biden and Kamala Harris masks on Wednesday in Washington DC. Source: SIPA USA/PA Images

However, Harris’s work was key to forging a platform and profile from which she launched a successful Senate campaign in 2016, becoming just the second black female senator ever.

Her stint as attorney general also helped her forge a connection with Biden’s son Beau, who held the same position in the state of Delaware, and died of cancer at the age of 46 in 2015.

“I know how much Beau respected Kamala and her work, and that mattered a lot to me, to be honest with you, as I made this decision,” Biden said during his first appearance with Harris as his running mate. 

A veteran campaigner, Harris appears charismatic but can quickly pivot to her prosecutorial persona of relentless interrogation and cutting retorts.

Clips went viral of her sharp questioning in 2017 of then-attorney general Jeff Sessions during a Capitol Hill hearing on Russia.

“I’m not able to be rushed this fast! It makes me nervous,” Sessions replied at one point.

Source: Los Angeles Times/YouTube

Harris also clashed with Biden during the first Democratic debate, chiding the former senator over his opposition to 1970s busing programmes that forced integration of segregated schools.

“There was a little girl in California who was part of the second class to integrate her public school, and she was bused to school every day,” she said.

And that little girl was me.

Harris was selected as Biden’s running mate in August this year. At the time, Donald Trump said he was “a little surprised” by the selection. 

Trump said Harris “was very disrespectful to Joe Biden” during the Democratic primaries, and said “it’s hard to pick somebody that’s that disrespectful”.

He also said Harris ”did very poorly” when she ran for the Democratic party’s presidential nomination. 

election-2020-harris Kamala Harris speaking during a drive-in rally earlier this week. Source: AP/PA Images

Harris announced she would run for the Democratic presidential nomination at the beginning of 2019. She officially withdrew her candidacy, citing a lack of funds, in December.

Harris has brought her fiery energy to Biden’s carefully stage-managed campaign.

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During her only debate against current Vice President Mike Pence last month, Harris raised her hand as he tried to interrupt her.

“Mr Vice President, I’m speaking. I’m speaking,” she said, silencing Pence. 

During this debate, Harris went on the attack against Donald Trump, saying his actions during the pandemic had forfeited the right to re-election. 

news-vice-presidential-debate-between-republican-nominee-vice-president-mike-pence-and-democratic-nominee-sen-kamala-harris Vice-presidential debate between Kamala Harris and Mike Pence last month. Source: SIPA USA/PA Images

She said: “The American people have witnessed what is the greatest failure of any presidential administration in the history of our country.”

Harris also condemned the killings of Breonna Taylor in Kentucky and George Floyd in Minnesota and spoke about the protests against racial injustice in policing that followed, which Trump has portrayed as “riots” as he called for law-and-order.

“We are never going to condone violence but we must always fight for the values that we hold dear,” she said.

I’m a former career prosecutor. I know what I’m talking about. Bad cops are bad for good cops.

Additional reporting by Orla Dwyer 

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