Kamala Harris endorses Joe Biden for president in former VP's two-horse race with Bernie Sanders

Senator Kamala Harris of California endorsed former vice-president Joe Biden for president on Sunday, becoming the latest of his formal rivals for the Democratic nomination to get behind his presidential bid

The New York Times March 09, 2020 07:38:23 IST
Kamala Harris endorses Joe Biden for president in former VP's two-horse race with Bernie Sanders

Senator Kamala Harris of California endorsed former vice-president Joe Biden for president on Sunday, becoming the latest of his formal rivals for the Democratic nomination to get behind his presidential bid.

“I have decided that I am with great enthusiasm going to endorse Joe Biden for president of the United States,” Harris said in a video posted on Twitter. “I believe in Joe. I really believe in him, and I have known him for a long time.”

In a tweet, Biden expressed gratitude and invoked his late son, Beau Biden, who served as Delaware’s attorney-general when Harris held that post in California: “Kamala — You’ve spent your whole career fighting for folks who’ve been written off and left behind — and no small part of that alongside Beau. From our family: Thank you.”

Harris is certain to draw speculation as a potential running mate for Biden.

Harris made her endorsement after the primary race narrowed to what is effectively a two-person race between Biden and Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont. Moderate-leaning Democrats have rapidly coalesced behind Biden, whose campaign has been rolling out new endorsements seemingly nonstop in recent days.

In a written statement about her endorsement, Harris noted the absence of a top female candidate in the primary. “Like many women, I watched with sadness as women exited the race one by one,” she said, adding that “we find ourselves without any woman on a path to be the Democratic nominee for president.”

Kamala Harris endorses Joe Biden for president in former VPs twohorse race with Bernie Sanders

File Image of Democratic senator Kamala Harris

“This is something we must reckon with, and it is something I will have more to say about in the future,” Harris said. “But we must rise to unite the party and country behind a candidate who reflects the decency and dignity of the American people and who can ultimately defeat Donald Trump.”

Harris announced her endorsement five days after Super Tuesday, when Biden captured 10 of 14 states, and before another round of contests Tuesday in six states, including Michigan. Harris will join Biden at a rally in Detroit on Monday night.

Harris ended her presidential bid in December, two months before the Iowa caucuses. Now she is following several of her former rivals for the presidential nomination in getting behind Biden. Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota; former South Bend, Indiana mayor Pete Buttigieg; and former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg left the race last week and endorsed the former vice president. Former representative Beto O’Rourke of Texas also backed Biden last week.

Sanders pointed Sunday to Klobuchar’s and Buttigieg’s decisions to drop out and endorse Biden as a reason he lost several key states to Biden on Super Tuesday.

“The establishment put a great deal of pressure on Pete Buttigieg, on Amy Klobuchar, who ran really aggressive campaigns,” he told Chuck Todd on NBC’s Meet the Press. “If they had not withdrawn from the race before Super Tuesday, which is kind of a surprise to a lot of people, I suspect we would have won in Minnesota, we would have won in Maine, we would have won in Massachusetts.”

For Harris, the decision to endorse Biden is particularly striking because one of the biggest moments of her campaign was a forceful debate-stage exchange with him.

“It was hurtful to hear you talk about the reputations of two United States senators who built their reputations and career on the segregation of race in this country,” she said in June during the first Democratic debate.

“And it was not only that, but you also worked with them to oppose busing,” she added. “And, you know, there was a little girl in California who was part of the second class to integrate her public schools, and she was bused to school every day. And that little girl was me.”

The exchange gave her a lift in the polls and a temporary burst of momentum that she was not able to sustain. At a fundraiser Friday, Biden’s wife, Jill Biden, described Harris’ attack at the debate as a “punch to the gut.”

Some of Harris’ advisors were privately frustrated that she endorsed Biden after California voted on Super Tuesday and when it was already clear that he had become the frontrunner. Some were hoping in January that she would rally to Biden at a point when her endorsement would have been more valuable — and more politically daring.

An aide to Harris, trying to preempt questions about why she waited until after several other primary contenders had weighed in, said the senator wanted to give space to Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts. Warren ended her campaign Thursday.

Harris is facing reelection in 2022, and her allies made clear earlier this year that she did not want to alienate the left in California. Biden’s advisors had hoped she would have endorsed him sooner and have made little attempt to mask their irritation at her months-long indecision.

But the delay will not necessarily diminish her chances of being on the ticket should Biden become the nominee. The former vice-president has a famously short memory for slights, and despite their bitter clash on the debate stage, he is fond of Harris.

Thomas Kaplan and Jonathan Martin c.2020 The New York Times Company

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