Joe Biden hailed his running mate, Kamala Harris, as a “pioneer in marriage equality,” and she gave a shout-out to LGBTQ+ people today in their first public appearance together since Biden announced his choice of Harris Tuesday.
The Democratic presidential and vice-presidential nominees appeared Wednesday afternoon without an audience (due to the COVID-19 pandemic) in the gymnasium of Alexis I. du Pont High School in Biden’s longtime hometown of Wilmington, Del. The event was livestreamed and televised.
“I picked the right person to join me,” Biden said of Harris, noting that his campaign set a single-day fundraising record Tuesday. He praised Harris’s experience, including her record as attorney general of California, noting that she was a “pioneer in marriage equality” in the state. As AG, Harris refused to defend Proposition 8, which temporarily revoked marriage equality in the state when voters passed it in 2008 (it was struck down for good by a U.S. Supreme Court decision in 2013). She has supported LGBTQ+ rights in general in many other instances as well, as California AG, San Francisco district attorney, and U.S. senator from California.
“Kamala, as you all know, is smart, she’s tough, she’s experienced, she’s a proven fighter for the backbone of this country, the middle class, for all those who are struggling to get into the middle class,” Biden continued. “Kamala knows how to govern; she knows how to make the hard calls. She’s ready to do this job on day one.”
He also acknowledged that Harris is breaking new ground as the first woman of color on a major-party presidential ticket. She is “a child of immigrants” (from India and Jamaica) who “knows personally how immigrant families enrich our country as well as the challenges of what it means to grow up Black and Indian-American in the United States of America.”
He added, “And this morning, all across the nation, little girls woke up, especially little Black and brown girls that feel overlooked and undervalued in their communities, but today — today just maybe they’re seeing themselves for the first time in a new way as president and vice presidents.”
Biden noted that this is the three-year anniversary of a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va., where participants were “spewing the same anti-Semitic bile we heard in Hitler’s Germany in the 30s. … It was a wake-up call to all of us in the country.” (Donald Trump, meanwhile, said there were good people on both sides at the event, where a woman demonstrating against the supremacists was killed by a hit-and-run driver.)
He further mentioned Trump’s misogyny, as the president has already called Harris “nasty,” a word he also used against Hillary Clinton, and has whined that she was mean to his appointees, such as now-Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. “Is anyone surprised that Donald has a problem with strong women?” Biden asked. Harris lauded the ambitious women who came before her and laid the path for where she is today.
The two pledged to counter the record of Trump and his vice president, Mike Pence, and “build back better” by fighting systemic racism and promoting equal rights for all, protecting and expanding health care, addressing climate change, creating jobs that pay a livable wage, and taking the pandemic seriously.
The nation is “reeling from the worst public health crisis in a century” and “experiencing a moral reckoning with racism and systemic injustice,” Harris said. But “we don’t have to accept the failed government of Donald Trump and Mike Pence,” she added.
She denounced Trump for his handling of the pandemic; there have been 5 million COVID-19 diagnoses and 165,000 deaths in the U.S. “His refusal to get testing up and running, his flip-flopping on social distancing and wearing masks, his delusional belief that he knows better than the experts — all of that is reason and the reason that an American dies of COVID-19 every 80 seconds,” she said.
She delivered a shout-out to all the essential workers who are keeping the nation going during the pandemic and the activists who are fighting for civil rights, including “the LGBTQ Americans who know that love is love” and those “who are saying that yes, Black lives matter.”
“To everyone keeping up this fight, you are doing something, you are doing something great,” Harris said.
She urged Americans to get active and “vote like never before because we need more than a victory on November 3. We need a mandate that proves that the past few years do not represent who we are or who we aspire to be. Joe likes to say that character is on the ballot. And it’s true.”
Biden and Harris will formally accept their nominations next week at the Democratic National Convention, to be held online because of the pandemic.