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VP pick Harris, arguing ‘open and shut’ case against Trump and Pence

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Oct 07, 2020 - 05:42 AM

WASHINGTON — Democratic Senator Kamala Harris will be in the spotlight Wednesday debating Vice President Mike Pence, an opportunity for her to prosecute the case against four more years of a Donald Trump administration in the United States.

At age 55, the first woman of color on a major party presidential ticket is a dynamic and youthful asset to her 77-year-old running mate Joe Biden.

On the debate stage she intends to use her skills as a former California attorney general and prosecutor to argue an “open and shut” case against Trump and Pence, as she described it in August upon accepting her party’s vice presidential nomination.

Harris drew national attention one year ago during an early primary debate when she confronted Biden — then her rival for the Democratic nomination — for his record on race including his opposition to 1970s busing programs that forced integration of segregated schools.

“There was a little girl in California who was part of the second class to integrate her public school, and she was bused to school every day,” Harris said. “And that little girl was me.”

It was a breakout moment that revealed the confidence, sharp elbows and personal charisma of a rising political star, who will take on Trump’s deputy in the Salt Lake City debate.

But Pence will be on heightened alert, given the surge in attention on the debate after Trump became sick with Covid-19, and as the White House incumbents trail in polling.

“He’s a good debater,” Harris told reporters last month.

“So, I’m so concerned, like I can only disappoint,” she added with a laugh.

But following the train wreck that was the first Trump-Biden debate last month, Harris likely will not follow with similar ad hominem attacks and may restrain the punches she delivered during her own presidential run.

Many firsts 

Harris, the daughter of Jamaican and Indian immigrants, has been a political pioneer since her career began.

She has said her mother was fond of telling her: “You may be the first to do many things but make sure you’re not the last.”

Harris was the first black attorney general of California, the first woman to hold the post, and the first South-Asian American senator ever.

She is now seeking to become the nation’s first female vice president.

And with Biden expected to serve only a single term if elected, Harris would be favored to win the Democratic presidential nomination four years from now, and a shot at more history-making — as the first female US president.

Since ending her White House run last December and endorsing Biden, Harris has stepped up her criticism of Trump on a host of issues — from his fueling of racial tensions and demonizing immigrants to his handling of the Covid-19 outbreak.

“There’s a reason it has hit America worse than any other advanced nation,” Harris said in her August acceptance speech. “It’s because of Trump’s failure to take it seriously from the start.”

Harris’s parents were immigrants to the United States, and their lives and her own have in some ways embodied the American dream.

Harris was born on October 20, 1964 in Oakland, California.

Her father was an economics professor and her mother a breast cancer researcher.

They separated when Harris was about five and she and her sister Maya were raised by her mother, who died in 2009.

Harris became a prosecutor and served two terms as a district attorney in San Francisco. She was then elected attorney general of California in 2010 and re-elected in 2014, the year she married lawyer Douglas Emhoff.

But her failure to enact bold criminal justice reforms while attorney general dogged her presidential campaign and did not sit well with some Black voters during the primaries.

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