Biden, Harris vow to rebuild America from triple crises

Top News | AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE 14 Aug 2020

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris launched their White House bid with the newly minted vice presidential nominee saying Americans are "crying out for leadership" to overcome the triple crises of a pandemic, racial injustice and a ravaged economy.

Making their first appearance as running mates at a Delaware high school closed to the public due to the coronavirus, the Democratic duo vowed to end Donald Trump's presidency and, in Biden's words, "rebuild this country."

Harris said: "Everything we care about - it's all on the line."

A formidable 55-year-old senator from California and the daughter of immigrants, Harris has already made history as the first woman of color tapped for a major party presidential ticket.

Describing a country at the crossroads, she left little doubt of her determination to attack.

"America is crying out for leadership, yet we have a president who cares more about himself than the people who elected him," she said.

Despite the setting, a far cry from the typical campaign rollout featuring thousands, Harris looked confident in her first speech as vice presidential nominee.

"The case against Donald Trump and Mike Pence is open and shut," said the former California attorney general as she assailed "failures of leadership" on containing the pandemic and an economy hobbled by measures to fight it.

The daughter of Indian and Jamaican immigrants to the United States also sought to tap into the nationwide upheaval over police violence and racial disparities.

"We're experiencing a moral reckoning with racism and systemic injustice that has brought a new coalition of conscience to the streets," she said.

For 77-year-old Biden - who leads Trump in most polls despite having to campaign mostly from his Delaware home - his vice presidential pick marks a crucial moment as he aims to build a broad coalition of voters to defeat Trump.

Biden spoke of why he chose Harris as his partner, stressing she was a tough and experienced legislator who is "ready to do this job on Day 1."

The event capped a 24-hour flurry since Biden's running mate announcement, saying they raised US$26 million (HK$202.8 million) during the period, the campaign's one-day record.

The Biden-Harris ticket already strikes a contrast with 2016, when nominee Hillary Clinton and running mate Tim Kaine struggled to unite a Democratic Party weakened by infighting.

Harris' politics lean left of Biden's and she could appeal to younger voters and women, particularly those in the suburbs who have been fleeing the Republican president, according to polling.

Trump, who last month acknowledged Harris would be a "fine choice" for Biden, attacked her following the announcement as "nasty" and a leftist who would implement "socialized medicine" and confiscate Americans' guns.

"I think she's going to be a big failure," he followed up.

Biden sniped at the president's attacks, asking if anyone was "surprised Donald Trump has a problem with a strong woman?"

And veteran political analyst David Axelrod put it more bluntly, saying if he was in the White House watching the Harris rollout "I'd be deeply concerned. She nailed it Not 'nasty.' Powerful."

For Harris, being elevated to a presidential ticket is political gold. If she and Biden win Harris will almost certainly become the 2024 or 2028 Democratic presidential frontrunner.

Biden would be the oldest person to take the office, and there is broad speculation he would serve one term.

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