As he was departing the White House for a trip to Texas on Wednesday, the president was asked about Sen. Kamala Harris. Trump answered that the senator from California would "be a fine choice” as Biden’s vice presidential nominee.
Harris – a former Democratic presidential candidate who took aim at Biden last year on the debate stage – is considered to be one of the top contenders that the presumptive Democratic nominee is considering as his running mate.
The former vice president told reporters Tuesday in Delaware that he would choose his running mate by “the first week in August.” Saturday is the first day of the new month.
Biden has said for a couple of months that his running mate announcement would come in early August, ahead of the Democratic National Convention, which starts on Aug. 17. The former vice president told reporters, “I promise, I’ll let you know when I do.”
Speculation that Harris might be Biden’s choice increased on Tuesday – after notes that Biden held in his hand during the news conference had Harris’ name scribbled across the top, as seen in a photo from the AP. The senator’s name was followed by five talking points: “Do not hold grudges.” “Campaigned with me & Jill.” “Talented.” “Great help to campaign.” “Great respect for her.”
The content of those notes are not new – Biden’s said similar things about Harris the past couple of months.
But the appearance of the notes came soon after a report from Politico that former Sen. Chris Dodd of Connecticut – a longtime Biden friend who’s co-chair of the campaign’s vice presidential vetting committee – still had concerns about Harris due to her takedown of Biden in the first Democratic presidential primary debate in June of last year. The report suggested that Dodd was worried that the senator hadn’t expressed regret for the incident, which briefly boosted her campaign as she put Biden on the ropes during the prime time showdown.
The comments that Dodd reportedly made have been criticized by some Democrats, including those who say Harris is unfairly being held to a standard that doesn’t apply to male contenders seeking the White House.
On the debate stage in Miami 13 months ago, Harris criticized comments by the former vice president spotlighting his ability to find common ground during the 1970s with segregationist senators with whom he disagreed, and over his opposition decades ago to federally mandated school busing.
“Do you agree today that you were wrong to oppose busing in America?” Harris – who is Black – asked Biden during the debate.
“There was a little girl in California who was a part of the second class to integrate her public schools, and she was bused to school every day,” she said. “And that little girl was me.”
Biden, who served eight years as vice president to Barack Obama, the first Black president in U.S. history, and who enjoyed strong support from African American voters throughout the primary campaign, angrily said the senator’s comments were “a mischaracterization” of his position.
Biden’s poll numbers briefly edged down after the debate – and Harris enjoyed a short-lived surge in the polls. But her campaign faltered later in the year, and Harris ended her White House bid last December.
By the time she suspended her campaign, the relationship between Harris and Biden had improved. Biden has publicly praised Harris numerous times – and has repeatedly pointed out that he’s thought highly of her since she became close to his late son, Beau Biden, when they both served as attorney general of their respective states.
Harris ended up endorsing Biden and appeared on stage with him – along with another former rival, Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey – at a rally in Michigan on the eve of that state’s March 10 primary, which the former vice president ended up winning decisively as he moved closer to locking up the Democratic nomination.
“I believe in Joe. I believe in Joe,” Harris said at the rally. “I know Joe. And that’s why I’m supporting him.”
The rally was Biden’s last before the coronavirus pandemic swept across the country, shutting down in-person campaigning. Since then, Harris has campaigned virtually for Biden, headlining events and fundraisers.
Biden announced in March that he’d name a woman as his running mate. The past two months – amid nationwide protests over police brutality against minorities and systemic racism –Biden has faced increased calls to name a Black woman as the party’s vice presidential nominee.