In her historic speech accepting the vice-presidential nomination at the Democratic National Convention Wednesday night, Kamala Harris spoke of the critical need to bring the United States together — while voting Donald Trump out of the White House.
Speaking from an empty convention hall, Harris, the first Black and Asian woman to be named to a major party’s presidential ticket, also highlighted the values that she said she shares with presidential hopeful Joe Biden.
She said those values were taught to her by her mother, an Indian immigrant, who saw America as “a beloved community, where all are welcome, no matter what we look like, where we come from, or who we love.”
That vision of the country is under threat by the Trump administration, she insisted, calling out the president’s “chaos,” “incompetence” and “callousness.”
“We can do better and deserve so much more,” Harris said.
“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.”
Harris pointed to the history of multiple civil rights movements that came before her: the fight for women to vote, which just turned 100 years old; the largely unspoken contributions of Black women to that fight; and the ongoing struggle for Black rights.
While speakers throughout the party convention have drawn a clear line between Biden and Trump, Harris used her typical strong language to cut right to the chase.
“Right now, we have a president who turns our tragedies into political weapons,” she said. “Joe will be a president who turns our challenges into purpose.”
She also used highlights from her career as a lawyer, district attorney and attorney general in California to lay another blow against the current president while making the case for her qualifications.
“I’ve fought for children, and survivors of sexual assault,” she said. “I’ve fought against transnational gangs, I took on the biggest banks, and helped take down one of the biggest for-profit colleges.
“I know a predator when I see one,” she added.
Harris, as Biden’s running mate, was officially nominated by Democrats Tuesday in a virtual roll-call that visited each state across the country, where local party representatives pledged a majority of their delegates to Biden.
She was announced as Biden’s running mate the week before, only the third woman in history to be selected for the role by either a Republican or Democratic presidential nominee.
A video that preceded her speech showed Harris from her days on the presidential trail last year saying she will fight for women — especially those of colour. She was introduced by members of her family, all female, including her sister and her stepdaughters.
LISTEN: Charles Adler reacts to Kamala Harris’ acceptance speech:
Speakers throughout the third night of the convention Wednesday also spoke to Harris’ abilities, including her experience and toughness.
“She’s relentless in the pursuit of justice and equity, and she’s kind,” Hillary Clinton said.
That speech came after a montage of female political trailblazers, with Harris presented as a continuation of that legacy partially made possible by Clinton, the first woman presidential candidate for a major party.
“I know something about the slings and arrows she’ll face, and believe me: this former district attorney and attorney general can handle them all,” she said.
Barack Obama, who spoke directly before Harris, called her his friend and an “ideal partner” for Biden, who served as Obama’s vice-president.
“(She’s) someone who knows what’s it like to overcome barriers, and who’s made a career fighting to help others live out their own American dream,” he said.
Harris also made a surprise appearance at the beginning of the night, urging Biden’s supporters to have a specific “voting plan” to overcome obstacles to voting raised by both the coronavirus pandemic and cuts to the U.S. Postal Service, which Democrats say Trump is undermining to prevent mail-in voting.
Trump took to Twitter during Harris’ speech to repeat his arguments that the nominee had criticized Biden during her presidential run.
“BUT DIDN’T SHE CALL HIM A RACIST??? DIDN’T SHE SAY HE WAS INCOMPETENT???,” he tweeted.
Harris never said Biden is a racist or incompetent, but in a notable moment during the first Democratic primary debate, she criticized Biden’s opposition to mandatory school busing in the 1970s.
She later said the comments were simply “politics,” and endorsed Biden after he became the presumptive nominee.