Democratic VP candidate’s focus on president’s ‘failure’ foreshadows campaign role

Kamala Harris used her first appearance as Joe Biden’s vice-presidential pick to attack Donald Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, foreshadowing how the former prosecutor plans to take on the president ahead of November’s election.
Ms Harris compared America’s new lockdowns to the experiences of other industrialised countries, which have largely controlled their outbreaks over the summer. She said Mr Trump’s mismanagement of the pandemic was to blame.
“There is a reason it has hit America worse than any other advanced nation,” said Ms Harris, appearing on stage with Mr Biden in his hometown of Wilmington, Delaware. “It is because of Trump’s failure to take it seriously from the start. His refusal to get testing up and running, his flip flopping on social distancing and wearing masks. His delusional belief that he knows better than the experts.”
Mr Biden said the 24 hours since his selection of Ms Harris has been the campaign’s single biggest fundraising day on record, a sign of how the pick of the first black woman to a national ticket has energised the Democratic party base. A Biden aide said they had raised $26m since the announcement.
Ms Harris, a California senator, thanked Mr Biden and spoke emotionally of her tenure working alongside Mr Biden’s late son, Beau, while the two were state attorneys-general. But the bulk of her address focused on Mr Trump’s economic and public health record.
“Because of Trump’s failures of leadership, our economy has taken one of the biggest hits out of all the major industrialised nations, with an unemployment rate that has tripled as of today,” she added. “This is what happens when we elect a guy who just isn’t up for the job. Our country ends up in tatters, and so does our reputation around the world.”
The US leads the world in deaths from Covid-19, with the virus having killed more than 156,000 Americans, according to the Covid Tracking Project. Tens of millions of Americans have filed for unemployment insurance since the pandemic began, and Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill are at a stalemate over whether to extend emergency benefits.
Mr Biden will formally accept the Democratic party’s nomination at a virtual convention next week.
Like most of the 2020 campaign, the pandemic altered Mr Biden’s planned introduction of his vice-presidential pick. Instead of addressing a roaring crowd or shaking hands on a rope line, the running-mates entered a high school auditorium wearing face masks, and stayed many feet apart while each spoke to television cameras and a small group of reporters.
At the end of the event, they were joined by their spouses, Jill Biden and Douglas Emhoff, who also wore face masks, and the couples stood on opposite sides of the podium for a socially distanced photo opportunity.
Introducing Ms Harris, Mr Biden said he had “no doubt” that he “picked the right person”. The former vice-president called Ms Harris an “honorary Biden”, recounting how he first met the then-California attorney-general through Beau.
Mr Biden became visibly emotional as Ms Harris recalled her friendship with Beau, who died of brain cancer in 2015, saying he was “the kind of guy who inspired people to be a better version of themselves”.