Kamala Harris makes history as vice-presidential candidate

Kamala Harris accepts her party’s historic nomination as vice-presidential candidate on the DNC’s third night.

Kerry Washington
Actor Kerry Washington speaks during the third night of the virtual 2020 Democratic National Convention kicks off with a segment on gun violence [Democratic National Convention/Pool via Reuters]
  • Democrats nominated former Vice President Joe Biden on Tuesday night. Wednesday saw Democratic luminaries like former State Secretary and presidential nominee Hillary Clinton speak, along with Biden’s running mate, Senator Kamala Harris, the first Black, Asian American vice-presidential candidate.
  • The convention has seen an unexpectedly high number of Republicans endorse Biden with an outsized share of screentime for members of the opposing party. The endorsements have caused some to question whether the Democrats’ rising progressive wing, headed by Senator Bernie Sanders, is being sidelined.
  • Former President Barack Obama, the party’s lionised figurehead spoke about his former vice president. Obama touched on Biden’s decency, a common theme of the convention, along with his policy proposals.

These were the updates:

Wednesday, August 19

02:51 GMT – Kamala Harris named vice-presidential candidate in historic moment

Kamala Harris made her first remarks as the first Black, Asian American vice-presidential candidate in US history by highlighting the importance of the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote.

The women who fought for that right “inspired us to pick up the torch and fight on”, Harris said. Among the inspiring women in her life, Harris spoke of her mother and the values of compassion for all people she instilled.

Harris said she is “committed to the values she (my mother) taught me, to the word that teaches me to walk by faith, and not by sight, and to a vision passed on through generations of Americans – one that Joe Biden shares. A vision of our nation as a beloved community – where all are welcome, no matter what we look like, where we come from, or who we love.”

Kamala Harris
Democratic vice-presidential candidate Senator Kamala Harris listens as presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden speaks at their first campaign event together [File: Carlos Barria/Reuters]

Though the majority of her acceptance speech was positive, she did challenge Trump, calling out conspiracy theories and racism present in the US that are often linked with his presidency.

“Today, that country feels distant. Donald Trump’s failure of leadership has cost lives and livelihoods.”

As the country grieves the loss of life and “opportunity”, Harris said there is hope the US can move forward with Biden at the helm.

“Let’s fight with hope”, Harris said, “for the America we know is possible. For the America we love.”

02:40 GMT – Obama says ‘democracy is at stake’, slams ‘reality show’ Trump

Former President Barack Obama delivered a skilful speech from Pennsylvania which lambasted Trump and his allies for endangering US democracy, while promising Biden and Harris will turn their “vision of a fairer country … into a reality.”

Obama has largely been silent on the policies of his successor, Trump, since he left office in January 2017. The former president eschewed that longstanding political norm on Wednesday night to endorse Biden.

Barack Obama speaks to Dem convention
Barack Obama spoke in graphic terms about the US civil rights movement that paved the way for him to become the first Black president [Democratic National Convention/Pool via Reuters]

Obama told voters – even those that were not sure for whom they would cast a ballot – that Biden and Harris will make sure the economy would not continue to favour the wealthy, but would work for normal people.

Regarding Trump, who he called a “reality TV” leader, Obama said he had no respect for US democracy.

“They are counting on your cynicism. They know they can’t win you over with their policies, so they’re trying to make it as hard as possible for you to vote … This administration will show they will tear our democracy down, if that’s what it takes.”

02:10 GMT – Elizabeth Warren says Biden has ‘really good’ economic plans

Massachusetts Senator and former presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren spoke in a prepared statement on Wednesday, saying Biden will create new union jobs and protect current ones.

Warren, a progressive, also highlighted Biden’s plans to ensure early childcare for families across the US.

“Joe and Kamala will make high-quality childcare affordable for every family”, Warren said.

Elizabeth Warren primary rally
Then-Democratic presidential candidate Senator Elizabeth Warren speaks during a primary election night rally in March [Patrick Semansky/AP Photo]

The US is facing a childcare crisis as families deal with a lack of school options as the coronavirus pandemic continues, preventing educational institutions from opening.

While the Biden-Harris ticket has further plans for economic justice, Warren said, their proposed expansion of childcare is an indicator of their approach.

“Joe’s plan to ‘build back better’ includes making the wealthy pay their fair share, holding corporations accountable, repairing racial inequities and fighting corruption in Washington”, Warren said

01:50 GMT – Clinton warns things ‘will get worse’ if Trump reelected

Former State Secretary Clinton warned the US that another four years of Trump would be dire for the US, saying voters need to support Biden and Harris to “bring our nation back from the brink” of disaster.

Clinton, who challenged Trump in 2016, winning the popular vote but losing in the Electoral College, said Democrats “need numbers overwhelming, so Trump can’t … steal his way to victory”, in an apparent reference to Russian interference in the 2016 elections.

Hillary Clinton Joe Biden Endorsement
Democratic US presidential candidate Joe Biden smiles as Hillary Clinton endorses him for president in a video screengrab made during an online town hall on women run from Biden’s home in Wilmington, Delaware. [Biden For President/Handout/Reuters]

She also referenced the continued cracking of the “glass ceiling” that women in office are still trying to overcome by attaining the office of the presidency.

Clinton said she knows the challenges Harris will face as the campaign continues, notably attacks from Trump.

“I know something about the slings and arrow she’ll face … [she] can handle them all”.

01:25 GMT – Billie Eilish debuts new song, says Trump is ‘destroying’ US

Pop superstar Billie Eilish appeared with words and a song at the DNC, saying viewers did not need her to tell them “things are a mess” under Trump.

“Donald Trump is destroying our country and everything we care about. We need leaders who will solve problems like climate change and COVID, not deny them, leaders who will fight against systemic racism and inequality,” Eilish said.

Billie Eilish
Singer Billie Eilish performs during the virtual 2020 Democratic National Convention as participants from across the country are hosted over video links from the originally planned site of the convention in Milwaukee, Wisconsin [2020 Democratic National Convention/Pool via Reuters]

“It starts with voting against Donald Trump and for Joe Biden. Silence is not an option and we cannot sit this one out. We all have to vote like our lives and the world depend on it, because they do.”

01:05 GMT – DNC kicks off with voter rights, gun law reform

Democrats started their third night with a short presentation by vice-presidential nominee Kamala Harris speaking on the importance of voting and offering assistance to voters in meeting deadlines and finding polling locations.

Then, a prepared segment on gun violence, featuring survivors of mass shootings of all ages voicing their support for Biden’s efforts to reform gun laws.

Former US Representative Gabi Giffords, who was shot at near point-blank range at a political event in January 2011, featured prominently in the segment.

Giffords, who has become an advocate for gun law reform, showed footage of her lengthy recovery, calling on voters to support Biden.

“We can act. We can protect our families and future … we must elect Joe Biden.”

00:34 GMT – Trump criticises Obama as “so ineffective, so terrible” ahead of DNC speech

Trump said at a press briefing on Wednesday that Obama’s expected remarks at tonight’s DNC are baseless, citing a “slow” economic recovery after the 2008 crash among other poor policies from his predecessor.

“When I listen to that and then I see the horror that he’s left us, the stupidity of the transactions that he’s made – look what we’re doing, we have our great border wall, we have security,” Trump said at the White house.

Donald Trump
President Donald Trump speaks during a news conference in the Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House before the DNC’s third night [Tom Brenner/Reuters]

Trump went to call Obama “so ineffective, so terrible”.

Obama has largely stayed silent on Trump’s tenure, respecting a longstanding norm that living presidents not criticise each other. He is expected to say that “Trump hasn’t grown into the job because he can’t,” among other remarks.

00:05 GMT – DNC viewership trails 2016 numbers

US television ratings for the second night of the DNC fell short of the same night in 2016, according to Nielsen data, even as Democrats formally nominated Biden.

The event, which was held virtually for the first time because of the COVID-19 pandemic, was watched by roughly 19.2 million people on 10 US broadcast and cable television networks, said Nielsen.

That represented a 22 percent decline from the convention’s second night in 2016, when Clinton was running for president.

Jill and Joe Biden
Former Vice President and Democratic nominee Joe Biden kisses his wife Jill Biden on the forehead at Brandywine High School, where she taught English from 1991 to 1993, after her speech extolling the nominee’s humanity [Democratic National Convention/Pool via Reuters]

Nielsen’s numbers did not include online viewing options popular with younger audiences.

Tuesday’s television audience dropped by 500,000 from opening night on Monday, which featured appearances from former first lady Michelle Obama and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders.

Monday’s viewership of 19.7 million was down 24 percent from 2016. 

23:38 GMT – Clinton to stress the need to vote

Former State Secretary Clinton, who challenged Trump in 2016, is expected to call on voters to turn out for Biden during her speech at the DNC.

“For four years, people have said to me, ‘I didn’t realise how dangerous he was.’ ‘I wish I could go back and do it over.’ Or worst, ‘I should have voted.’ Well, this can’t be another woulda coulda shoulda election. If you vote by mail, request your ballot now, and send it back as soon as you can”, she will say, according to prepared remarks released before the event.

Hillary Clinton
Hillary Clinton, accompanied by former President Bill Clinton, right, pauses while speaking to staff and supporters at the New Yorker Hotel in New York, Wednesday, November 9, 2016, where she conceded her defeat to Republican Donald Trump after the hard-fought presidential election [Andrew Harnik/AP Photo]

Clinton was heavily favoured to win in 2016 and did win the popular vote, but Trump’s victory in several “swing” states, often by razor-thin margins, clenched his victory in the Electoral Colege.

“If you vote in person, do it early. Bring a friend and wear a mask. Become a poll worker. Most of all, no matter what, vote. Vote like our lives and livelihoods are on the line, because they are.”

22:23 GMT – Obama to deliver harsh criticism of Trump

Former President Barack Obama looks poised to deliver his sharpest critique of President Donald Trump on Wednesday, after three years of largely upholding the political norm that presidents not criticise their successors.

“He’s shown no interest in putting in the work; no interest in finding common ground; no interest in using the awesome power of his office to help anyone but himself and his friends; no interest in treating the presidency as anything but one more reality show that he can use to get the attention he craves,” Obama will say, according to prepared remarks released ahead of the event.

Obama Biden hug
Former President Barack Obama hugs then-Vice President Joe Biden after presenting him the Presidential Medal of Freedom in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington in 2017 [Yuri Gripas/Reuters]

Obama’s comments echo those of his wife, Michelle, who delivered a speech sharply critical of Trump’s demeanour and handling of the coronavirus pandemic on Monday night, saying, “he’s in over his head.”

Trump has long criticised the Obama administration as corrupt and incompetent.

Obama will also speak about his relationship with Biden.

“Twelve years ago, when I began my search for a vice president, I didn’t know I’d end up finding a brother,” he was expected to say. “Joe and I came from different places and different generations. But what I quickly came to admire about him is his resilience, born of too much struggle; his empathy, born of too much grief.”

21:36 GMT – Harris expected to use prosecutorial skills on Trump

Vice-presidential nominee Kamala Harris, a former prosecutor from California who made history as the first Black woman and Asian American on a major US presidential ticket, is expected to aggressively press the case against Trump’s re-election on November 3 during her speech at the convention.

Harris will likely aim to speak directly to millions of women, young Americans and voters of colour, constituencies the party needs if Biden is to defeat Republican Trump.

She gained prominence in the Senate for her exacting interrogations of Trump nominees, Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh and Attorney General Bill Barr.

Harris is sure to continue with criticisms over Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic and the ensuing economic downturn.

She provided a preview of her role as Biden’s VP candidate last week, when she argued that the case against Trump, 74, and Vice President Mike Pence, 61, was “open and shut”.

21:15 GMT – What to expect on the DNC’s third night

Democrats are going to make US history with Kamala Harris as the vice-presidential nominee, backed by party heavy-hitters like former State Secretary Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama.

Clinton, who challenged Trump in 2016 as the US’s first female presidential candidate, is likely to speak on the importance of women voting as 2020 marks the 100-year anniversary of the success of the women’s suffrage movement.

Obama is likely to use his significant oratory skills to motivate voters to turn out for Biden, for the sake of his former vice president – and his own legacy.

Read more here.

21:02 GMT – DNC’s second night watched by 18.2 million people

A total of 18.2 million people watched the second night of the virtual Democratic National Convention, according to early Nielsen Media Research.

The American flag on top of a state name sign near the stage where Democratic vice-presidential candidate Senator Kamala Harris will speak on the third day of the Democratic National Convention in Delaware [Carolyn Kaster/AP Photo]

Tuesday evening featured a keynote address delivered by 17 rising stars of the Democratic Party, a coast-to-coast roll call of delegates, appearances by former US President Bill Clinton and former Secretaries of State Colin Powell and John Kerry, and a headline speech from Joe Biden’s wife, Jill.

Democrats formally nominated Joe Biden for president, more than three decades after his first unsuccessful run for the White House.

The viewership total dropped by about 500,000 from the first night, Nielsen said.

20:32 GMT – Trump lashes out at Goodyear

US President Donald Trump used his Twitter account to “cancel” Goodyear Tires over an image reportedly from one of their factories which “banned” Make America Great Again hats and “Thin Blue Line” apparel, which is used to show support for police, according to the president.

“Don’t buy GOODYEAR TIRES – They announced a BAN ON MAGA HATS. Get better tires for far less! (This is what the Radical Left Democrats do. Two can play the same game, and we have to start playing it now!),” Trump tweeted, in an apparent reference to “cancel culture”, which liberal activists call on others to stop supporting a person or brand whose conduct they find problematic.

Goodyear released a statement following the publication of “the visual in question was not created or distributed by Goodyear corporate.”

The company did ask associated to “refrain from workplace expressions in support of political campaigning for any candidate or political party, as well as similar forms of advocacy that fall outside the scope of racial justice and equity issues”.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies