Kamala Harris: life and career of first female, first Black and first South Asian vice president-elect

It’s been announced that Joe Biden has been elected President of the United States – making Kamala Harris the vice-president elect

Monday, 9th November 2020, 3:53 pm
Joe Biden has officially named Kamala Harris as his running mate  (Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Joe Biden has officially named Kamala Harris as his running mate (Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Back in August, Kamala Harris was named as the running mate for Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden.

It has since been revealed that Biden won the US Presidential election, meaning Harris is officially the Vice President of the United State, making her the first black woman and South Asian American in history to take on the role.

This is everything you need to know about Kamala Harris - including what Donald Trump said when the news of her selection broke.

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Who is Kamala Harris?

Kamala Harris is a Californian Democrat who was born in Oakland, California on 20 October 1964.

Her mother, Shyamala Gopalan, was a breast cancer scientist and her father, Donald Harris, a Stanford University emeritus professor of economics.

Harris was raised in Berkeley with her younger sister, Maya.

She attended college in the US, spending four years at Howard University, where she double majored in political science and economics.

Following her time at Howard University, Harris went on to earn a law degree at the University of California, and began her career in the Alameda County District Attorney’ Office.

She became the top prosecutor for San Francisco in 2003, after being elected the first woman and first black person to serve as California’s attorney general.

During this time in office, Harris built a reputation as one of the Democratic party’s rising stars, and used this momentum to propel her election as California’s junior US senator in 2017.

Harris had launched a bid for presidency, with her 2020 campaign initially being met with enthusiasm.

However, her campaign was ended in December 2019 before the first Democratic contest in Iowa.

In March, Harris endorsed Joe Biden, saying that she would do “everything in [her] power to help elect him the next President of the United States”.

What has Donald Trump said about Harris?

When the news broke that Harris had been selected by Biden as his running mate, the current President of the United States quickly responded, describing her as “phony” and “nasty”.

Trump said: “I like Vice President Mike Pence much better. He’s solid as a rock. He’s been a great Vice President, and I will take him over Kamala and the… horrible way she treated Justice Kavanaugh.

“I thought she was the meanest, most disrespectful of anyone in the US Senate.”

Trump added that Harris was “nasty” to Brett Kavanaugh and that he wouldn’t “forget that soon”.

Trump is referring to the time in 2018, when Harris, a former prosecutor, questioned Kavanaugh regarding sexual misconduct allegations.

Trump also posted a campaign video to his personal Twitter account that painted Harris and Biden as controlled by the “radical left”.

However, these negative statements contradict Trump's previous comments about Harris, when at the end of July, he said that she would be a “fine choice” for Biden to choose as a VP.

“I think she’d be a fine choice, Kamala Harris. She’d be a fine choice,” Trump said when he was asked to rank her chances in the “Veepstakes”.

Trump has also stirred up another ‘birther’ theory - much like the one Barack Obama faced during his presidency - which calls into question her eligibility to serve as vice president.

After a conservative law professor questioned Harris’ eligibility to serve as VP based on her parents’ immigration status at the time of her birth, Trump was asked about it at a press conference on Thursday.

He said: “I just heard it today that she doesn’t meet the requirements and by the way the lawyer that wrote that piece is a very highly qualified, very talented lawyer.

“I have no idea if that’s right. I would have assumed the Democrats would have checked that out before she gets chosen to run for vice president.

“But that’s very serious, you’re saying that, they’re saying that she doesn’t qualify because she wasn’t born in this country.”

In terms of whether Harris is eligible to serve as vice president, Juliet Sorensen, a law professor at Northwestern University, told the Associated Press (AP) news agency: “Kamala Harris, she has to be a natural-born citizen, at least 35 years old, and a resident in the United States for at least 14 years. She is. That's really the end of the inquiry."

What does the role of vice president entail?

If Biden were to be elected as President, as Vice President Harris would step into the role should he die or leave office during his term.

The Vice President also is empowered to preside over Senate deliberations - however they may not vote, unless to act as a tie-breaker.

The Vice President also presides over joint sessions of Congress.

When did America elect a President?

Biden and Trump will faced off against each other on 3 November, when the American election took place.

There were two main parties that Americans can vote for - the Democrats, headed by Biden, and the Republicans, headed by Trump.

Other “third party” candidates can also participate in the election, including the Libertarian party, Green party and Independent parties occasionally putting forth a nominee.

After a long process of counting votes, Biden was revealed as the projected winner.