Former Vice President Joe Biden on Tuesday afternoon named Sen. Kamala Harris of California as his running mate in the 2020 presidential race, putting to an end months of speculation about who he would select as his vice presidential nominee as he campaigns to defeat President Donald Trump in November.
In an email to supporters, Biden called Harris "one of the toughest and most effective senators" and "someone who understands the pain that so many people in our nation are suffering, whether they've lost their job, their business, a loved one to this virus."
"I need someone who understands that we are in a battle for the soul of this nation. And that if we’re going to get through these crises—we need to come together and unite for a better America. Kamala gets that." he wrote.
I have the great honor to announce that I’ve picked @KamalaHarris — a fearless fighter for the little guy, and one of the country’s finest public servants — as my running mate.
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) August 11, 2020
The Progressive Change Campaign Committee, which endorsed Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) during the Democratic presidential primary, applauded Harris, the first African-American woman to run as vice president on a major ticket, for "breaking this important barrier."
"All of us will need to do everything we can do defeat Donald Trump this November, and Joe Biden will need strong progressive energy to win," the group said.
Harris, a moderate Democrat who served as district attorney of San Francisco and attorney general of California before being elected to the Senate in 2017, clashed with Biden early in the primary debates over the former vice president's civil rights record, memorably sharing her own story of benefiting from a school busing program.
The NAACP called Harris's vice presidential run "the culmination of the tireless work of Shirley Chisolm, Charlene Mitchell, Sojourner Truth, Rosa Parks, Fannie Lou Hamer Barbara Jordan, Ida B. Wells, and Myrlie Evers in their fight for representation and equality."
"From the voting booth to grassroots movements, Black women have fought for and uplifted this country with their vote and voice," said Derrick Johnson, president and CEO of the NAACP.
"But their representation in the highest levels of government has never matched their unwavering participation in our democracy," added Johnson. "Today's announcement of a Black woman, Sen. Kamala Harris, as the first vice-presidential candidate of a major political party, breaks down one of these barriers in historic proportions."
On Tuesday, Harris tweeted that Biden "can unify the American people because he's spent his life fighting for us" and said she was "honored" to join his campaign.
.@JoeBiden can unify the American people because he's spent his life fighting for us. And as president, he'll build an America that lives up to our ideals.
I'm honored to join him as our party's nominee for Vice President, and do what it takes to make him our Commander-in-Chief.
— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) August 11, 2020
Progressives pledged to continue engaging with the Biden-Harris campaign, and pushing them next year—once Trump is ousted—to ensure they embrace bold policy proposals supported by the majority of Democrats and all Americans, including Medicare for All and a Green New Deal.
Harris signed on as a co-sponsor of Sen. Bernie Sanders' Medicare for All bill last year, but drew criticism from progressives during the primary debates regarding her lack of commitment to replacing the for-profit health insurance sector by expanding Medicare to all Americans.
Sanders offered his congratulations to the senator on social media.
Congratulations to @KamalaHarris, who will make history as our next Vice President. She understands what it takes to stand up for working people, fight for health care for all, and take down the most corrupt administration in history. Let’s get to work and win.
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) August 11, 2020
RootsAction expressed wariness at the news of Harris's nomination, but offered hope that the California senator may push her running mate and a potential Biden administration to adopt progressive policies.
"While her penchant for taking positions broadly palatable to the corporate donor class raises concerns about her dedication to progressive principles, her habit of aligning her stance with the prevailing political winds gives us some hope," the group said in a joint statement with Progressive Democrats of America. "We will fight every day to hold Vice President Harris to the higher ideals she often espouses, and make sure those winds blow decisively in the direction of a Green New Deal, Medicare for All, and a level playing field for working families everywhere."