Joe Biden has picked California senator Kamala Harris as his vice presidential nominee, making her the first ever woman of colour on a US presidential ticket for a major party.
Mr Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, made the historic announcement on Tuesday after a search for a running mate which had lasted months.
“I need someone working alongside me who is smart, tough, and ready to lead. Kamala is that person,” Mr Biden said in a statement announcing his long-awaited choice.
He said he had wanted a nominee ready to step into the top job at a moment’s notice given his age, 77, and talked up his hope of making his ticket better reflect America's diversity.
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
Ms Harris is the third woman ever selected as a vice presidential candidate for either the Republicans or the Democrats, following Geraldine Ferraro in 1984 and Sarah Palin in 2008.
She would become the first woman ever to serve as either president or vice president if victorious given Ms Ferraro, Ms Palin and Hillary Clinton, the Democratic presidential nominee in 2016, all lost.
Explaining his decision in an email to supporters, Mr Biden said: “I need 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. This president says he ‘doesn’t want to be distracted by it’.
“He doesn’t understand that taking care of the people of this nation - all the people - isn’t a distraction - it’s the job. Kamala understands that."
Ms Harris had challenged Mr Biden for her party’s 2020 presidential nomination but dropped out of the race before Christmas as donations began to dry up.
She once confronted Mr Biden forcefully in an early debate last year about his past opposition to busing, the practice of taking children by bus to different schools to help break down racial segregation.
The feisty exchange had dominated headlines at the time and was seen as a possible hurdle to Ms Harris being selected as Mr Biden’s running mate, but clearly it was not considered disqualifying.
Mr Biden referenced the fact he first met Ms Harris through his son eldest Beau, who was a rising star in the Democratic Party before dying from cancer in 2015, in his statement.
“There is no one’s opinion I valued more than Beau’s and I’m proud to have Kamala standing with me on this campaign,” Mr Biden said.
Ms Harris has an Indian mother and Jamaican father, meaning she is also the first Asian-American person to be on a presidential ticket for a major US political party.
Who is Kamala Harris?
Ms Harris had been considered a favourite to be Mr Biden's running mate from the beginning. As an early Democratic presidential contender herself, she gained national name recognition and has an impressive CV; she served as California's attorney general before becoming the first African American from the state to serve as a US senator.
Coming from California is also an advantage. The country's most populous state will play a huge role in the election, and Ms Harris has access to its wide network of donors.
Ms Harris is seen as a tough and effective politician with a strong track record as a prosecutor and a rare demographic appeal as a biracial woman.
Her supporters hope that like President Barack Obama, she can create a broad voter base by appealing to both black and white voters.
.@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.— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) August 11, 2020
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.
Tracy Sefl, a Democratic strategist and former adviser to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, spoke to The Telegraph earlier this year and described her as a “sharp political intellect” and believes her impressive record as California's attorney general will stand her in good stead.
“In terms of biography that is an important piece of hers and perhaps a bit of a differentiator among 2020 candidates who are often mentioned in the same breath,” she says.
However, Ms Harris does not offer much to the liberal wing of the Democratic Party - she has flip-flopped on whether she supports a universal healthcare system and her background as a prosecutor has come under criticism from those calling for greater criminal justice reform.
Read more about Ms Harris in our profile here.
What does this mean for Biden's chances?
Her selection came as Mr Biden, who had already committed to selecting a woman as a running mate, was facing public calls to pick a person of colour to join him for the election on November 3.
Racial injustice has been pushed to the forefront of US public debate after the death of George Floyd triggered nationwide anti-racism protests unlike anything seen in the country for decades.
Her experience in criminal justice - she was the district attorney for San Francisco then attorney general of California before becoming a US senator in 2017 - was also singled out by Mr Biden in his supporters note.
During her presidential bid Ms Harris also ran on a more moderate platform than some of her rivals, a point likely to have been considered by the Biden campaign given Donald Trump’s increasing attacks that Mr Biden will be “controlled” by “radical socialists”.
The decision was of particular importance given Mr Biden will become the oldest person ever elected to the US presidency if he wins and is unlikely to serve a second term, meaning Ms Harris will be an early front-runner for the Democrats’ 2024 presidential nomination.
Mr Biden had personally interviewed the candidates on his shortlist, either in person or remotely, before making his choice.
He told some personally on Tuesday they were not picked. Among those who missed out were Susan Rice, the former US national security adviser, Karen Bass, the US congresswoman for California, and Elizabeth Warren, the US senator for Massachusetts.
Reaction to Biden's VP pick
Within minutes of the announcement a photograph of Mr Biden and Ms Harris high-fiving had been uploaded to the Biden campaign website and a Biden-Harris campaign logo was revealed.
Ms Harris reacted by tweeting that she was “honoured” to become the party’s vice presidential nominee, saying that Mr Biden can “unify the American people”.
Kamala Harris is the rare pick who is both safe/conventional as well as historic.— amy walter (@amyewalter) August 11, 2020
Barack Obama, the former US president whom Mr Biden served as vice president for eight years, praised the choice, saying: "Joe Biden nailed this decision.”
Mr Biden will appear alongside Ms Harris in Wilmington, Delaware on Wednesday for their first formal event together.
I’ve known Senator @KamalaHarris for a long time. She is more than prepared for the job. She’s spent her career defending our Constitution and fighting for folks who need a fair shake. This is a good day for our country. Now let’s go win this thing. pic.twitter.com/duJhFhWp6g— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) August 11, 2020
In a nod to the historic nature of the decision, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) called it a "defining moment in US history".
Eric Garcetti, the Los Angeles Mayor, praised his "dear friend", calling Ms Harris a "true ally" for people "who have needed a voice within the corridors of power."
Should Mr Biden win in November and Ms Harris take office as vice president, Mr Garcetti would be eyed as a potential successor for her Senate seat.
Thrilled to support @KamalaHarris as next VP. I was honored to speak with @JoeBiden at length over the weekend and again today. His focus on reaching out to every corner of our country speaks to how he will lead us. I look forward to doing all I can for Team #BidenHarris!— Stacey Abrams (@staceyabrams) August 11, 2020
The Trump campaign said in a reaction statement: “She is proof that Joe Biden is an empty shell being filled with the extreme agenda of the radicals on the left.”
Mr Trump's campaign adviser, Katrina Pierson, said on Tuesday Ms Harris "will abandon her own morals, as well as try to bury her record as a prosecutor, in order to appease the anti-police extremists controlling the Democrat Party."
Vice President Mike Pence, whom Ms Harris will face on the debate stage during the presidential campaign, learned of the announcement during an event in Arizona.
"I don't know if you all heard the news, but on the way here I heard Joe Biden just named his running mate - California Senator Kamala Harris," Mr Pence told the crowd. He added sarcastically: "So let me take this opportunity to welcome her to the race."
Republican Senator and Trump ally Lindsey Graham tweeted: “Senator @KamalaHarris will be a formidable opponent. She is smart, aggressive, and has fully bought in to the Democratic Party’s very liberal agenda.”
Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said: "A hiding, diminished, and incoherent Joe Biden didn’t just select a vice-presidential candidate, he chose the person who would actually be in charge the next four years if he is somehow able to win."
What has Trump said about Harris?
Mr Trump, who weeks ago said that Ms Harris would be a “fine choice”, took a much tougher stance on Tuesday, claiming she was his “number one pick” for who he wanted to face on the ticket given her unsuccessful presidential campaign.
During a White House briefing, Mr Trump called Ms Harris "the meanest, the most horrible, most disrespectful" senator.
The president said he was "a little surprised" that Mr Biden picked Ms Harris, pointing to their debate stage disputes during the primary. Mr Trump, who has donated to her previous campaigns, argued she was "about the most liberal person in the US Senate".
"I would have thought that Biden would have tried to stay away from that a little bit," he said.
The US president also claimed she wanted “very big” tax rises and to “slash” military funding.
After the announcement, Mr Trump quickly tweeted a campaign ad that dismisses Ms Harris as "phony" and says she and Mr Biden "jointly embrace the radical left".
How the US papers reacted
The Washington Post splashed with the headline 'In historic move, Biden selects Harris for VP' calling the decision "the most consequential of Biden’s presidential campaign".
The Post's columnist Jennifer Ruben wrote: "Unless something huge rocks the presidential race, Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.) will be the first female vice president. Let’s not mince words: Former vice president Joe Biden has made a deliberate, unequivocal statement about African American women in politics."
Opinion: Harris has been called too cautious and deliberate. That makes her a great running mate. https://t.co/SZPFZMWShA— The Washington Post (@washingtonpost) August 12, 2020
The New York Times opinion writer Frank Bruni said Ms Harris enables Mr Biden, "for a second time, to be part of a presidential ticket that sets a precedent and blazes a trail. It’s almost as if he’s trying to recreate the established magic, to repurpose the victorious script."
Under Harris’s gaze, Pence has to defend a racist, sexist president. As he watches helplessly, Harris gets to talk about how that racism and sexism feel to a Black woman like her. This is an extraordinary collision of life experiences, says @FrankBruni. https://t.co/0HmKeCVsml— New York Times Opinion (@nytopinion) August 12, 2020
While Chicago Tribune columnist Steve Chapman said: "Two immediate takeaways from Joe Biden's choice of running mate: He doesn't hold a grudge. And he won't be cowed by the progressives in the Democratic Party."
Hours after Kamala Harris was named Joe Biden’s running mate, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot offered up a stark warning to the California Democratic senator’s detractors: “This is not a woman to be trifled with" https://t.co/F8ZsZwMZZo— Chicago Tribune (@chicagotribune) August 12, 2020
The Los Angeles Times political columnist George Skelton wrote: "California is a state of immigrants. And fittingly, Sen. Kamala Harris is the daughter of immigrant parents. She's got special license to articulate the case against Trump’s xenophobic, family-ripping immigration policies."
California is a state of immigrants. And fittingly, Sen. Kamala Harris is the daughter of immigrant parents. She's got special license to articulate the case against Trump’s xenophobic, family-ripping immigration policies, writes @LATimesSkelton. https://t.co/05fgP4Q6gB— Los Angeles Times (@latimes) August 12, 2020
And in The Boston Globe opinion writer Michael A. Cohen described Ms Harris as the "safe, smart, and historic pick who brings excitement to a ticket that is not overflowing with energy".