Joe Biden, Kamala Harris host first campaign event: Live updates

3 months ago 33
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United States Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his recently chosen vice-presidential candidate Kamala Harris are to appear together in their first in-person campaign event.

The event is taking place at a high school in Biden's hometown of Wilmington, Delaware on Wednesday, and the candidates are expected to lay out their vision for how to defeat US President Donald Trump and then lead the country through a pandemic, its economic fallout and a long-simmering reckoning with racism.

In a reflection of coronavirus guidelines, there were not expected to be any supporters at the event, but dozens of people had gathered outside the school hoping to catch a glimpse of the two candidates.

Joe Biden picks Kamala Harris as running mate

The understated campaign kick-off is particularly unique given Harris's historic significance. The daughter of Jamaican and Indian immigrants, she is the first Black woman and first person of Asian descent to join a major party presidential ticket. 

The Biden campaign had said it hoped to create a first public appearance that blends the momentous nature of Harris' selection with the realities of the 2020 campaign and the gravity of the nation's circumstances.

After speaking, Harris and Biden are set to sit down together for an online fundraiser designed to let small donors get a fresh glimpse of what the Democratic presidential ticket will look like in the lead-up to election day on November 3. 

Here are the latest updates: 20:30 GMT - Trump campaign distributes Harris talking points

Politico reporter Alex Isenstadt has reported that the campaign has distributed Kamala Harris talking points to Trump surrogates ahead of the campaign event which instruct how to portray Harris as "radical".

The Trump campaign is distributing these Harris talking points to surrogates ahead of her appearance w/Biden (1/2) pic.twitter.com/S4sUzPPnCF

— Alex Isenstadt (@politicoalex) August 12, 2020 20:15 GMT - Harris motorcade seen leaving leaving Joe Biden’s home

Kamala Harris’s motorcade was seen leaving Joe Biden’s Delaware home shortly before the campaign event on Wednesday, which was held at a nearby high school that was not publicly disclosed.

Sen. @KamalaHarris’s motorcade rolls out of @JoeBiden’s Delaware home ahead of their first appearance together after he announced her as his running mate. pic.twitter.com/97zUrXiu5G

— Sarah Mucha (@sarahmucha) August 12, 2020

Nevertheless, a small crowd gathered at Alexis DuPont High School in Wilmington before the event began, according to US media. 

Reporters, meanwhile, socially distanced awaiting the remarks in the school’s gymnasium. Reporters had their temperatures taken before entering the gymnasium and wore masks. 

19:45 GMT - High hopes for Harris 

The Biden campaign hopes the California senator's historic profile and confrontational style against Trump will boost Democrats' efforts to oust the Republican president amid the country's myriad crises.

Harris was considered a favourite throughout Biden's search, and she has been a regular surrogate campaigner and fundraiser for him since he became the presumptive nominee.

However, given pandemic restrictions, the 55-year-old former prosecutor will likely have to put her animated and no-nonsense public style - which often contrasts with the 77-year-old Biden's more folksy approach - to use in television and online streaming formats without voter interaction or feedback.

Supporters also hope she will excel during her only scheduled debate against Vice President Mike Pence on October 7 at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City.

"So, my message to the Democratic candidate for vice president [is]: 'Congratulations, I'll see you in Salt Lake City!'" Pence said on Wednesday. 

19:30 GMT - Biden, Harris start day with tweets 

On Wednesday, Biden and Harris started the day by tweeting about the newly formed team. 

Biden wrote that if they win, "We're going to inherit multiple crises, a nation divided, and a world in disarray ...That's exactly why I picked her: She's ready to lead on day one." 

If @KamalaHarris and I are elected, we're going to inherit multiple crises, a nation divided, and a world in disarray. We won't have a minute to waste.

That's exactly why I picked her: She's ready to lead on day one.

— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) August 12, 2020

Harris, for her part, tweeted a video that showed Biden offering her the position. 

"We are in a battle for the soul of this nation. But together, it's a battle we can win," she wrote. 

We are in a battle for the soul of this nation. But together, it's a battle we can win.@JoeBiden—I'm ready to get to work. pic.twitter.com/3PJcUTYBGU

— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) August 12, 2020

The duo will have to work through some differences exposed during the primary campaign, including Harris's initial support for a single-payer health insurance system and the Green New Deal, progressives' most ambitious set of proposals to combat the climate crisis.

Harris no longer supports a single-payer health insurance system, aligning instead with Biden's proposal to add a public insurance option to compete alongside private plans. Harris has more broadly endorsed the Green New Deal.

There was also Harris's deeply personal debate-stage broadside against Biden over his opposition to federally mandated busing to integrate public schools in the 1970s.

19:15 GMT - Trump team begins Harris attack 

Trump has already seized on those dynamics, tagging Harris as "Phony Kamala" and casting her as the latest evidence that Biden, a five-decade veteran of the Democratic establishment, is captive to the farther-left reaches of the party. 

On Wednesday, White House adviser Kellyanne Conway on Wednesday insisted Harris is "very much part of the radical left" and suggested the senator will have a hard time not outshining Biden, whose age and fitness for office Conway frequently mocks.

"He's overshadowed basically by almost everyone he comes in contact with," she said.

Biden's campaign seemed prepared for the counteroffensive, noting that just weeks ago, Trump said Harris would be a "fine choice".  Meanwhile, campaign finance records show that Trump contributed as a private citizen to Harris's attorney general campaigns in California. Harris was elected to the Senate in 2016. 

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