Historic Biden-Harris ticket debuts in Wilmington

Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee former Vice President Joe Biden, left, and running mate Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) take the stage to deliver remarks at Alexis I. du Pont High School in Wilmington on Wednesday. TNS photo

WILMINGTON — Former Vice President Joe Biden and California Sen. Kamala Harris laid out their vision for the next four years if elected in November, making stark distinctions between their plans for the White House and Donald Trump’s presidency.

Mr. Biden said it is about time he got back to work in the White House.

“So now, I need to get to work pulling our nation out of these crises we find ourselves in. Getting our economy back on track, uniting this nation, and yes, winning the battle for the soul of America,” he said.

Mr. Biden and his newly announced vice-presidential nominee, Sen. Harris, made their first public appearance together at A.I. Dupont High School in Wilmington on Wednesday. The duo addressed a small crowd of media members in the school gym, with press required to wear face coverings and sit six feet apart.

Despite the event starting an hour late and a power outage shutting down air conditioning in the building before the speeches began, Mr. Biden and Sen. Harris appeared to be focused and in high spirits.

Supporters of former Vice President Joe Biden and his running mate Sen. Kamala Harris, stood for hours hoping to get a glimpse of the pair on Wednesday at A.I. du Pont High School. Special to the Delaware State News/Butch Comegys

A crowd of onlookers gathered outside the school, some waving flags and signs in support of Biden, while counter protesters touted pro-life signs. Five men with blank expressions stood at the entrance of the high school holding ‘Trump 2020’ signs. After the 35 minutes of speeches ended around 5:30 p.m., onlookers spotted Mr. Biden leaving with Secret Service and supporters could be seen with tears of brimming in their eyes after getting a glance at the Democratic presidential nominee.

Mr. Biden announced on Tuesday that Sen. Harris was his pick for vice president after considering several other women for the job, including former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice and U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass), before eventually deciding on the California senator and previous presidential race contender.

Mr. Biden named many reasons for choosing Sen. Harris as his running mate during his speech but kept returning to her strong character.

“She’s worked hard, she’s never back down from a challenge, and she has earned each and every of the accolades and achievements gained, many of them often in the face of obstacles that others put in her way, but never quit,” Mr. Biden said.

He also remarked on what Sen. Harris’ nomination as vice president means for women of color in America, as Sen. Harris is the first Black and South Asian woman to be nominated to the position.

“And this morning, all across the nation little girls woke up, especially little Black and brown girls, who so often feel overlooked and undervalued in their communities. But today, just maybe, they’re seeing themselves for the first time in a new way, as the stuff of presidents and vice presidents,” Mr. Biden said.

Sen. Harris was friends with Mr. Biden’s late son, former Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden. Mr. Biden cited Beau’s respect for Sen. Harris as a large factor in his decision to pick her as his running mate.

Vice President Joe Biden with his son, Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden, at Return Day in Georgetown on Nov. 8, 2012. Delaware State News/Marc Clery

“They took on the same big fights together, Kamala in California, Beau here in Delaware. Big fights, and helped change the entire country. I know how much Beau respected Kamala and her work. And that mattered a lot to me, to be honest with you, as I made this decision,” he said.

When asked about Sen. Harris at a White House press conference on Tuesday, President Trump called the Senator “nasty” regarding her treatment of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh during his appointment hearings. Mr. Biden said it’s not surprising to him that President Trump is criticizing Sen. Harris.

“Is anyone surprised that Donald Trump has a problem with a strong woman, or strong women across the board?” Mr. Biden asked. “Kamala Harris has had your back, and now, we have to have her back. She’s going to stand with me in this campaign, and all of us are going to stand up for her.”

Mr. Biden went on to address the Trump administration, harshly criticizing his approach to COVID-19 among other issues.

“We have a public health crisis. While he’s in court trying to do away with healthcare, with more than 5 million reported infections, 165,000 people dead and climbing as a consequence of COVID-19. But still, months later, no real leadership or plan from the President of the United States of how to get this pandemic under control,” Mr. Biden said. “The Joe Biden and Kamala Harris administration will have a comprehensive plan to meet the challenge of COVID-19 and turn the corner on this pandemic.”

After addressing issues such as climate change and the three-year anniversary of the white supremacy rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, Mr. Biden gave the stage to his running mate.

Sen. Harris started her speech by crediting the strong women who came before her, then dove into what she said is at stake in this election.

“This is a moment of real consequence for America. Everything we care about, our economy, our health, our children, the kind of country we live in. It’s all on the line,” Sen. Harris said. “We’re reeling from the worst public health crisis in a century. The president’s mismanagement of the pandemic has plunged us into the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, and we’re experiencing a moral reckoning with racism and systemic injustice that has brought a new coalition of conscience to the streets of our country, demanding change.”

College students listen to Sen. Kamala Harris’ speech as they sit outside A.I. du Pont High School in Greenville on Wednesday.

She addressed her family background, stating how her parents met at a protest in Oakland during the civil rights movement. Her parents would later bring her, strapped in a stroller, to similar protests, when she was a young girl.

“My mother and father, they came from opposite sides of the world to arrive in America. One from India and the other from Jamaica, in search of a world-class education. But what brought them together was the civil rights movement of the 1960s. And that’s how they met as students in the streets of Oakland marching and shouting for this thing called justice in a struggle that continues today,” she said.

Sen. Harris also discussed her friendship with the late Beau Biden, formed while they were attorney s general and she said they would call each other every day.

A supporter stands patiently in the rain with family members hoping to get a glimpse of former Vice President Joe Biden and his running mate Sen. Kamala Harris.

“I learned quickly that Beau was the kind of guy who inspires people to be a better version of themselves. He really was the best of us. And I would ask him, where’d you get that, where’d this come from? He’d always talk about his dad,” she said. “The love that they shared was incredible to watch. It was the most beautiful display of the love between a father and a son.”

Sen. Harris said the vote coming in 83 days is an opportunity to rebuild America.

“This election isn’t just about defeating Donald Trump or Mike Pence. It’s about building this country back better. And that’s exactly what Joe and I will do, we will create millions of jobs, and fight climate change through a clean energy revolution, bring back critical supply chains so the future is made in America, build on the affordable care act so everyone has the peace of mind that comes with health insurance, and finally, offer caregivers the dignity, the respect, and the pay they deserve,” she said. “We will protect a woman’s right to make her own decisions about her own body, root out systemic racism in our justice system, and pass a new voting rights act, a John Lewis voting right act, to ensure that every voice is heard and every voice is counted.”