U.S. Senator Kamala Harris of California accepted the Democratic Vice-presidential nomination on Wednesday night (Aug. 19) touting her admiration for Joe Biden, contrasting a vision for America different from President Trump’s leadership, and sharing her African American and Indian American heritage.
A historic nominee, Harris becomes the first woman of color nominated to a major party ticket for Vice-president. Her mother was an immigrant from India and her father was born in Jamaica. Harris, 55, was born in Oakland, California.
She joins only two other women who have ever been nominated for Vice-president, the late Democratic Rep. Geraldine Ferraro in 1984 and former Republican Governor of Alaska Sarah Palin in 2008. Hillary Clinton, who spoke earlier Wednesday night, was the first female nominated by a major party to lead the ticket when she was the 2016 Democratic Presidential nominee.
Harris, whose parents divorced when she was 5, talked about her mother who raised her as a single parent. She discussed the middle-class upbringing of her family and how her mother’s sacrifices gave her the opportunities for education and a more prosperous livelihood.
She also touched on the issue of race relations, which has been at the forefront of the national conversation after a summer of protests in the wake of the George Floyd killing and other incidents.
“There’s no vaccine for racism. We have got to do the work,” she said.
“We’re at an inflection point. The constant chaos leaves us adrift. The incompetence makes us feel afraid. The callousness makes us feel alone. It’s a lot. And here’s the thing: We can do better and deserve so much more. We must elect a president who will bring something different, something better, and do the important work. A president who will bring all of us together — black, white, Latino, Asian, Indigenous — to achieve the future we collectively want. We must elect Joe Biden,” Harris said.
The Democratic Vice-presidential nominee brings a younger generation of leadership to the ticket. Still, in her speech to the nation she called on even younger Americans to keep speaking on issues of national importance.
Harris, a former prosecutor and attorney general, was close with Biden’s son, Beau, who died in 2015. She said Biden’s ability to work through tough times will guide the nation, if they’re elected.
“Right now, we have a president who turns our tragedies into political weapons. Joe will be a president who turns our challenges into purpose,” Harris said. “Make no mistake, the road ahead will not be easy. We will stumble. We may fall short. But I pledge to you that we will act boldly and deal with our challenges honestly.”
Democrats also heard from some of their most high-profile leaders including former President Barack Obama and 2016 Democratic Presidential nominee Hillary Clinton – the former First Lady, a U.S. Senator from New York, and former Secretary of State.
Obama, who served two terms as President, gave one of the longest speeches of the convention. Speaking from Philadelphia’s Museum of the American Revolution, he said that Trump had been a failure in office.
“The consequences of that failure are severe. 170,000 Americans dead. Millions of jobs gone. Our worst impulses unleashed, our proud reputation around the world badly diminished, and our democratic institutions threatened like never before,” he said. “Donald Trump hasn’t grown into the job because he can’t.”
“He’s shown no interest in putting in the work; no interest in finding common ground; no interest in using the awesome power of his office to help anyone but himself and his friends; no interest in treating the presidency as anything but one more reality show that he can use to get the attention he craves,” Obama said.
He touted Joe Biden, who served as his Vice-president, for his leadership on the economy, his credentials as a world leader, and his ability to relate to everyday citizens.
“More than anything, what I know about Joe, what I know about Kamala, is that they actually care about every American. And that they care deeply about this democracy,” Obama said.
He spent the bulk of his speech encouraging people to exercise their right to vote on November 3rd and to not give up on the promise of America.
“The President and those in power are counting on your cynicism. They know they can’t win you over with their policies, so they’re hoping to convince you that your vote does not matter,” he said. “That’s how a democracy withers… We have to get busy building up by voting like never before for Joe and Kamala and candidates up and down the ticket.”
Hillary Clinton, who lost to President Donald Trump in the last Presidential election, said she had hoped Trump would have been a better leader.
“But, sadly, he is who he is,” she said. “America needs a president who shows the same compassion, determination, and leadership in the White House that we see in our communities.”
Clinton implored Americans to vote.
“For four years, people have said to me, ‘I didn’t realize how dangerous he was.’ ‘I wish I could go back and do it over.’ Or worst, ‘I should have voted.’ Well, this can’t be another woulda, coulda, shoulda election,” Clinton said, before plugging Biden’s candidacy.
“Joe Biden knows how to heal, unify, and lead because he’s done all of that for his family and his country,” she said.
SEN. JOYCE ELLIOTT RESPONDS
Talk Business & Politics will summarize highlights from the Democratic National Convention this week and the Republican National Convention next week. Each night, a prominent party official or candidate will be asked for commentary and feedback on the evening’s events.
Sen. Joyce Elliott, the Second District Democratic Congressional nominee who is challenging U.S. Rep. French Hill, R-Little Rock, offered these observations on the third night of the convention.
TB&P: What was your reaction to Kamala Harris’ speech tonight?
Sen. Joyce Elliott: I am so inspired by Kamala Harris’ story — being raised by an immigrant parent, overcoming adversity, and buying into education as a means of opportunity. I am proud to join her call to action in committing to lowering healthcare costs, fighting for a fairer economy, and expanding the right to vote.
TB&P: Was there a major takeaway from Hillary Clinton and/or Barack Obama?
Elliott: They [the Clintons], more than any duo in recent history I’d say, know the stakes of a presidential election. We have so much on the line: access to affordable healthcare, a fair economy with opportunity for the next generation, and protecting American democracy.
President Obama is uniquely positioned to talk about the seriousness of the modern presidency. He and Vice President Biden worked to restart the economy and stop a pandemic. I am proud to have his endorsement and wholeheartedly support the cause of lowering healthcare costs, building an economy that works for everyone, and protecting our democracy.
TB&P: You’ve been to a convention before. What’s your assessment of the virtual convention?
Elliott: Anyone who tries to assess this convention against past conventions is comparing apples and oranges. The pandemic-caused virtual format was never going to be the same as an in-person convention, but I applaud the organizers of this year’s DNC for thinking beyond old traditions to bring new voices to the table, showcase uniquely compelling messages, and meet the moment.