In Defying the Odds, we discuss the 2016 campaign. The 2019 update includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms. The 2020 race, the subject of our next book, is well underway.
On Tuesday, Harris' strategy — a low-profile, leak-free effort that contrasted sharply with her undisciplined presidential campaign — and the late push by her supporters paid off when Biden made her the nation’s first black woman to run for vice president on a major-party ticket. The announcement capped weeks of crypt-like silence from Biden advisers, whisper campaigns, opposition research and late drama.
In picking the 55-year-old senator, Biden essentially nominated the future face of the Democratic Party. The child of Jamaican and Indian immigrants, Harris is both South Asian and Black American. She is viewed by the right as too liberal, and by the far left as too centrist.
Bass remained in contention until the final weekend. Campaign allies called Florida Democrats to ask whether concerns about her past ties to socialists and comments about Fidel Castro were limited to Miami’s Republican-leaning electorate, two sources familiar with the discussions said. They were not, Biden team's was told.
One friend of Biden’s who recently spoke with him privately told POLITICO that the candidate confided he was struggling with the choice at times because he felt pressure from former Obama White House advisers pushing former national security adviser Susan Rice, while Dodd and others talked up Bass.
But, the friend said, Biden had more of a personal rapport with Harris, despite their run-in during the campaign. He remembered her friendship with Beau, and he respected that she ran for president.
In that way, Harris’ debate ambush was an upside for Biden.
“Joe wants someone who has been on the big stage under the bright lights who can gut someone like a fish, and Kamala more than proved she could do that,” the donor said. “Now it’s Pence’s turn and she’s gonna cut him up.”
Christopher Cadealago and Renuka Rayasam at Politico:
Harris would have been in the spotlight even without the virus and the George Floyd protests, and she would have been considered for the ticket without them, too. And the demands of a presidential campaign aren’t comparable to a few summer months spent mostly in lockdown. But it’s easy to see how the events of 2020 made her an even more obvious choice.
During Harris’ run for president, she was criticized for shifting her central animating themes and for overseeing a dysfunctional, leaky operation. Yet when she’s spoken this summer, it’s been clear where she stands on the biggest issues of the day. One notable exception came when she struggled to answer a simple question from Stephen Colbert about how she could come together with Biden after their debate exchange in Miami over segregation. But mostly, her ability to stay on message and run a drama-free veepstakes operation sent a message to Biden — perhaps a calculated one — that she could be a trusted partner.
Harris’ work on police reform after the Floyd protests has helped her neutralize her mixed record as a criminal justice reformer that has long irked progressive Democrats. Her focus on the devastating impacts of coronavirus on communities of color has helped demonstrate to voters, and Biden, that she was putting her head down and working after spending much of 2019 on the road campaigning for president.