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What to Know About Kamala Harris, Joe Biden’s V.P. Choice

Senator Kamala Harris of California, whom Joseph R. Biden Jr. announced on Tuesday as his pick for vice president, will be the first Black woman and the first person of Indian descent to be nominated for national office by a major party. A pragmatic moderate and one of Mr. Biden’s former rivals in the presidential race, Ms. Harris was a barrier-breaking prosecutor before being elected to the Senate in 2016.

周二,小约瑟夫·R·拜登(Joseph R. Biden Jr.)宣布他的副总统人选为加利福尼亚州参议员卡玛拉·哈里斯(Kamala Harris),后者将成为被主要政党提名担任国家政府官职的首位黑人女性和首位印度裔人士。哈里斯是一位务实的温和派,也是拜登此前在总统竞选中的对手之一。在2016年当选参议员之前,她曾是一名冲破障碍的检察官。

Ms. Harris, 55, was born in Oakland, Calif. She is a former attorney general of California and a former San Francisco district attorney.



When she announced her own bid for the presidency — on Martin Luther King’s Birthday in 2019 — she pitched herself as a history-making candidate, paying homage to Shirley Chisholm, the New York congresswoman who became the first woman to seek the Democratic Party’s nomination for president.

在2019年马丁·路德·金(Martin Luther King)生日那天宣布竞选总统时,她把自己定位为创造历史的候选人,并向第一位寻求获得民主党总统候选人提名的女性、纽约众议员雪莉·奇瑟姆(Shirley Chisholm)致敬。

Prosecutorial background


Ms. Harris’s record as a prosecutor — she was the San Francisco district attorney from 2004 to 2011, and the California attorney general from 2011 to 2017 — was a major theme of her presidential campaign and will almost certainly be discussed in the general election, especially given the national outcry over police brutality and systemic racism since the killing of George Floyd.

哈里斯于2004年至2011年担任旧金山地区检察官,于2011年至2017年担任加州总检察长,担任检察官的经历是她总统竞选中的重要主题,几乎肯定会在大选中被拿来讨论,特别是考虑到自乔治·弗洛伊德(George Floyd)被杀以来,全国对警察暴力和系统性种族主义的抗议。

Ms. Harris has described herself as a “progressive prosecutor” and argued that it is possible to be tough on crime while also confronting the deep inequities of the criminal justice system. She has said she became a prosecutor because she believed she could best change the system from within, a message that became a key part of her pitch as a presidential candidate: that voters could trust her to overhaul the justice system because she knew it “from the inside out.”


But aspects of her record have been a source of criticism, especially from the left.


As attorney general, she rarely prosecuted police officers who killed civilians, though by the time she left that office, she had opened some reviews of police departments. She was also criticized for refusing to allow advanced DNA testing that might have exonerated Kevin Cooper, a Black man on death row, and for defending some convictions against allegations of prosecutorial misconduct.

担任总检察长期间,她很少起诉杀死平民的警察,不过她离任时已对警察部门展开了一些审查。她还因拒绝允许进行先进的DNA检测而受到批评,而这种检测本可能为被判死刑的黑人凯文·库珀(Kevin Cooper)洗脱罪名,她还曾因对检方的不当行为指控做出辩护而受到批评。

An opponent of the death penalty, she refused to seek it when a police officer was killed in San Francisco in 2004 — an episode that drew protests at the time but that she has pointed to as an example of her commitment to a fairer criminal justice system. But 10 years later, when a judge declared California’s death penalty unconstitutional, she appealed the decision, saying she was obligated to do so as the state’s attorney general.


The criminal justice plan she released during her presidential campaign contained a number of progressive policies that she had opposed earlier in her career.


Senate career


Elected to the Senate in 2016, Ms. Harris was the first Black woman in the chamber in more than a decade. During her relatively brief time as California’s junior senator, she has become known for her intensive interrogations of Trump administration officials and nominees, including Brett M. Kavanaugh during his Supreme Court confirmation hearing and Attorney General Jeff Sessions during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing.

哈里斯于2016年当选参议员,是十多年来首位进入参议院的黑人女性。在担任加州资浅参议员的那段相对短暂的时间里,她以对特朗普政府官员和提名人发起严厉质询闻名,包括在最高法院确认听证会上对布雷特·M·卡瓦诺(Brett M. Kavanaugh)的质询,以及在参议院情报委员会(Senate Intelligence Committee)的听证会上对司法部长杰夫·塞申斯(Jeff Sessions)的质询。

In recent years, she sought to align herself more with the Democratic Party’s left wing, initially supporting Senator Bernie Sanders’s “Medicare for all” bill before shifting her position during the presidential campaign. She has also backed proposals to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour and revise the country’s bail system.

近年来,她试图更多与民主党左翼结盟,最初支持参议员伯尼·桑德斯(Bernie Sanders)的“全民医保”法案,后来在总统竞选期间改变了立场。她还支持将联邦最低工资提高到每小时15美元,以及修改美国保释制度的提议。

Ms. Harris has been a vocal supporter of racial justice legislation in response to the killing of Mr. Floyd, supporting proposals to overhaul policing and make lynching a federal crime.


She serves on several high-profile committees in the Senate, including the Intelligence Committee and the Judiciary Committee.


Presidential campaign


Ms. Harris dropped out of the presidential race late last year after running low on money. She shot up in the polls after a strong first debate, but then fell and never really regained traction.


Yet when she entered the race in January, she was seen as one of the front-runners, and she had an impact on the early trajectory of the campaign.


Part of her influence was ideological: She was the first candidate, for instance, to suggest requiring federal preclearance for state abortion restrictions, a position that most of the Democratic candidates later expressed support for.


She had an electric moment in the first debate last June when she forcefully challenged Mr. Biden over his record on race. The way that exchange began was also notable: The moderators had not called on Ms. Harris, but she asserted herself by saying, “As the only Black person on this stage, I would like to speak on the issue of race.”


The interaction was an example of a quality that Ms. Harris’s campaign worked hard to play up, just as it played up her intense questioning in Senate hearings. Her team’s argument was that she could take control of any debate stage, including against President Trump, and that she would not be intimidated by Mr. Trump’s bullying style of politics.


Broadly, however, she seemed to lack a guiding political ideology and sometimes struggled to present a cohesive platform, most prominently on health care. In one well-publicized instance, she vacillated on whether enacting “Medicare for all” would mean eliminating private insurance.


Relationship with Biden


To many political observers, it might have seemed that the relationship between Ms. Harris and Mr. Biden was fraught. After all, in that first debate, Ms. Harris unleashed perhaps the most forceful — and memorable — attack on a rival of the entire primary campaign when she challenged Mr. Biden over his past opposition to busing as a means of integrating public schools.


It was “hurtful,” she said, to hear Mr. Biden speak positively about working with segregationist senators, because “there was a little girl in California who was part of the second class to integrate her public schools, and she was bused to school every day, and that little girl was me.”


Among some of Mr. Biden’s advisers, her debate-stage attack generated lingering resentment — even as recently as weeks ago. At a fund-raiser in March, Jill Biden, the former second lady, called Ms. Harris’s debate stage remarks a “punch to the gut.”

在拜登的一些顾问中,她在辩论阶段的攻击引发了挥之不去的怨恨——甚至在几周前还是如此。在今年3月的一场筹款活动上,前第二夫人吉尔·拜登(Jill Biden)称哈里斯在辩论台上的言论是“当胸一拳”。

But perhaps to stave off any doubts about their compatibility, Mr. Biden’s campaign immediately released a document on Tuesday about Ms. Harris that included a section on the “partnership” between the two politicians, noting that she had served as attorney general of California when Mr. Biden’s son Beau was attorney general of Delaware.


“The two grew close while fighting to take on the banking industry,” one bullet point read. “Through her friendship with Beau, she got to know Joe Biden.”


How voters may view her selection


During her presidential campaign, Ms. Harris appealed in particular to more moderate Democrats and those drawn to her biography. She could reinforce Mr. Biden’s appeal with Black women, suburban women and women generally who are eager to see themselves reflected in the country’s leadership.


Ms. Harris also has another potential secret weapon: her connection to the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority, which she joined as an undergraduate at Howard University and whose roughly 300,000 members and multimillion-dollar budget could help provide fund-raising and organizational might across the country.

哈里斯还有一个潜在的秘密武器:她与阿尔法·卡巴·阿尔法女大学生联谊会(Alpha Kappa Alpha)的联系。她在霍华德大学(Howard University)上本科时加入了这个联谊会,该联谊会约有30万名成员,拥有数以百万计美元的预算,可以帮助在全国范围内提供筹款和组织力量。

But the progressive left, including some supporters of Mr. Sanders, will most likely be disappointed in Ms. Harris’s selection, viewing her as far more supportive of incremental change than the kind of broad, revolutionary proposals they champion. And her long career in law enforcement could be off-putting to some voters, especially younger voters, who are eager to see a police-reform movement with unqualified backing from the White House.

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