Joe Biden-Kamala Harris Ticket Makes Debut After Historic VP Pick
Harris beat 10 other finalists for No. 2 spot; campaign officials say she displayed knowledge of policy, confidence in challenging Trump. Joe Biden-Kamala Harris Ticket Makes Debut After Historic VP Pick
Joe Biden and Kamala Harris made their public debut Wednesday as Democratic running mates and emphasized the historic choice of the senator from California, who beat out 10 other finalists to become the first Black woman and the first woman of Indian ancestry on a major-party presidential ticket.
“She’s smart. She’s tough. She’s experienced,” Mr. Biden said of Ms. Harris Wednesday. “She’s a proven fighter for the backbone of this country, the middle class, for those struggling to get into the middle class.”
Mr. Biden and Ms. Harris entered a high-school gymnasium wearing black face masks—which the former vice president has worn since the coronavirus pandemic put an end to traditional campaigning—and the two remained a few feet apart throughout the event. He highlighted Ms. Harris’s background as the daughter of immigrants and said she would serve as a model for “little Black and Brown girls.”
“I’m so proud to stand with you,” Ms. Harris said, taking the stage. “And I do so mindful of all the heroic and ambitious women before me, whose sacrifice, determination, and resilience makes my presence here today even possible.”
In choosing her as his running mate Tuesday, Mr. Biden turned to a former presidential primary rival who has been a frequent critic of President Trump and could help Democrats appeal to a diverse electorate as the nation grapples with the economic fallout from the coronavirus and protests in the aftermath of the police killing of George Floyd in May.
Ms. Harris used her background as a prosecutor and her childhood experience of attending civil-rights marches with her parents to lay out her case against Mr. Trump and praised the work of young activists calling out racial injustices.
“The president’s mismanagement of the pandemic has plunged us into the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression,” she said. “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. America is crying out for leadership.”
Ms. Harris had long been considered a leading contender for the No. 2 spot on the ticket, especially as Mr. Biden was urged by some of his allies to select a Black woman.
Mr. Biden chose her over a group of potential running mates that included former Obama national security adviser Susan Rice, Rep. Karen Bass of California, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Illinois Sen. Tammy Duckworth.
Mr. Biden’s roughly three-month search process led him to interview 11 candidates during the final nine days, according to campaign officials. His search committee earlier met in person with more than 20 potential contenders, asking them a list of questions that included: “What do you think Trump’s nickname for you will be?”
Although Ms. Harris was considered a frontrunner for the job for weeks, she was an uneven campaigner during her presidential bid, when she struggled to settle on a message and strategy. Progressives within the party were critical of her record as a prosecutor, and some Biden allies raised questions about her loyalty to Mr. Biden after a heated debate exchange with him last year over his position on federally-mandated busing in the 1970s.
In a press briefing after the Biden-Harris event, Mr. Trump called Ms. Harris an “unusual pick,” given the debate disagreement with Mr. Biden. “She mocked him—openly mocked him,” he said.”
Mr. Biden’s search process culminated in a Zoom call with the California senator Tuesday afternoon in which Mr. Biden offered her the job. In a photo released by the campaign, Mr. Biden sat at a desk in his Wilmington home and spoke to her by videoconference on his laptop as he read from typed notes.
“I’m calling you today because I’ve made that first Presidential decision,” the notecard said. “I’ve decided I would like you to join this effort to win back the soul of this country and be our nation’s next Vice President.”
In a video released by the campaign, Mr. Biden asks Ms. Harris: “You ready to go to work?” and Ms. Harris responds: “Oh my God, I am so ready to go to work.”
In her conversations with the search committee, campaign officials said, Ms. Harris displayed knowledge of major policy issues and confidence in her ability to challenge the president. The officials also said Mr. Biden “felt a genuine personal connection” to Ms. Harris, who cited her work with the former vice president’s late son, Beau Biden, while the two served as attorneys general of their states.
Ms. Harris forged a close bond with Mr. Biden’s oldest son nearly a decade ago when they negotiated a settlement with the banking industry over mortgage practices that preceded the foreclosure crisis. Beau Biden and Ms. Harris were among the last holdouts in accepting a deal for their states.
During tedious attorneys general meetings, and later, when Beau Biden was suffering from brain cancer, Ms. Harris—along with other attorneys general—would try to keep his spirits up in text messages, according to people familiar with their relationship.
Both Mr. Biden and Ms. Harris brought up his late son in their speeches Wednesday. “Beau was the kind of guy who inspired people to be a better version of themselves…when I would ask him, ‘Where did you get that? Where did this come from?’ He’d always talk about his dad,” Ms. Harris said.
Delaware Sen. Chris Coons, a confidant of Mr. Biden, said the search process helped show how Mr. Biden would present a contrast to the president in the election. “Joe is thorough, detailed, professional, listens to experts, and when it comes to a critical emergency like a health pandemic, that’s what he’s doing,” he said.
Republicans sought to cast the ticket as a capitulation to the party’s most liberal elements. The president said on Twitter Wednesday morning that Ms. Harris’s presidential campaign had performed poorly before she departed the race “with almost zero support. That’s the kind of opponent everyone dreams of!”
During an event in Mesa, Ariz., on Tuesday evening, Vice President Mike Pence, who will face Ms. Harris in a single debate in October, said her selection was no surprise because Mr. Biden and his party had been “overtaken by the radical left.”
Mr. Biden hit back at Mr. Trump for saying Tuesday that Ms. Harris was “nasty” to a Supreme Court nominee during a confirmation hearing. “It’s no surprise because whining is what Donald Trump does best,” Mr. Biden said.
Mr. Biden said during a virtual fundraiser after the event that his campaign had raised $26 million in the 24 hours since announcing Ms. Harris as his running mate, according to a pool report. “It’s really palpable, the excitement,” he said.
Of those donors, 150,000 hadn’t previously given to Mr. Biden’s campaign, he said.
Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia, the 2016 Democratic vice presidential nominee, offered Ms. Harris a piece of advice Wednesday. Mr. Kaine said Ms. Harris and Mr. Biden should try to do more events together. “I think the public likes to see the working relationship, what’s the working relationship going to be like,” he told reporters on Capitol Hill.
Ahead of the new ticket’s appearance Wednesday in Wilmington, dozens of people, some waving Biden signs, gathered outside Alexis I. du Pont High School to show their support. They were joined by a handful of antiabortion activists.
A typical running-mate rollout would involve cheering crowds in a battleground state. The pandemic has prevented traditional campaigning, so the Wednesday event was held inside the gymnasium, with members of the media sitting in folding chairs inside white circles meant to ensure social distancing.
Ms. Harris’s allies say she did what she could do to position herself for the nomination, while remaining calm during the vetting process—even in the final days, as lobbying from those supporting other candidates became more frenzied and concerns from some over her ambition became public.
“She was cool,” said Bakari Sellers, a former South Carolina lawmaker who kept in touch with Ms. Harris in recent weeks. “She was Zen.”
Mr. Sellers said she would bring that same approach to the campaign. “She’s going to leave it all on the field.”
Silicon Valley Sees Kamala Harris as One of Its Own
Joe Biden’s VP pick has forged deep ties with tech-industry executives but sometimes stands against their interests.
Silicon Valley has a potential ally in its future with Kamala Harris, a California senator who has strong ties to executives behind the nation’s technology giants and has been largely silent about the antitrust issues currently plaguing them.
Ms. Harris, named Tuesday as Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden’s running mate, counts prominent figures such as Facebook Inc. operating chief Sheryl Sandberg and Salesforce.com Inc. co-founder Marc Benioff among her supporters. Boldfaced Silicon Valley names including LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman and venture capitalist John Doerr raised money for her presidential bid that ended in December. And her brother-in-law is Tony West, general counsel of Uber Technologies Inc.
“She grew up around a ton of innovation and realized how important that is for the California economy,” said Charles Phillips, former Oracle Corp. president who is also co-chair of the Black Economic Alliance, a political-action committee.
The first Black woman and the first woman of Indian descent selected to run for vice president on a major-party ticket, Ms. Harris is far from a tech apologist. The 55-year-old Oakland, Calif., native has criticized social-media companies’ handling of political speech and election misinformation. Last year, the former San Francisco district attorney and California attorney general backed the state’s so-called gig-economy legislation that requires companies like Uber and Lyft Inc. to reclassify their independent contractors as employees, a law they strongly oppose and are now fighting in state court.
But Ms. Harris and Mr. Biden haven’t called for tech giants such as Google and Amazon.com Inc. to be broken up, a hot-button issue that has garnered support among some Democrats and Republicans. Last month, the chief executives of Facebook, Apple Inc., Amazon, and Google faced relentless criticism at a more than five-hour long congressional antitrust hearing in which lawmakers challenged their companies’ business practices.
When pressed on the matter in an interview with the New York Times during her run for president, Ms. Harris deflected and said her first priority in the White House with regard to Big Tech would be to safeguard user privacy, an area Facebook and others have sought to improve.
Mr. Biden told the Associated Press in May 2019 that breaking up Facebook is “something we should take a really hard look at,” while Ms. Harris that same month described the social-media giant on CNN as a utility that had gone unregulated. Other former Democratic presidential candidates such as Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders have drawn a firmer line, describing tech giants as monopolies. Last year, Ms. Warren’s campaign went as far as to plaster her image with the phrase “break up big tech” on a billboard outside a San Francisco rail station frequented by Silicon Valley commuters.
Despite such criticism, many Democrats in recent years including Ms. Warren succeeded in raising funds from tech elites. Ms. Harris’s Silicon Valley backers during her presidential bid included Twitter Inc. board member Omid Kordestani and his wife, Gisel Kordestani, who each gave the maximum amount allowed by the Federal Election Commission for the primary election. Laurene Powell Jobs, widow of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, did the same. Mr. Kordestani and Ms. Jobs also donated to other primary candidates.
“When she meets people she comes across as qualified, a tough prosecutor—we saw her as our attorney general and before that a district attorney,” said Marc Nathanson, a former cable executive and longtime Democratic donor. “More importantly, she listens,” he said.
Mr. Nathanson pointed to a coming virtual fundraiser his wife Jane Nathanson is co-hosting under the Women for Biden banner. Other co-hosts include former U.S. Ambassador to the Bahamas Nicole Avant, who is married to Netflix Inc. co-chief executive Ted Sarandos, and movie producer Florence Sloan. Tickets range from $500 to $250,000, according to an invite reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. Mr. Biden and Ms. Harris share some donors but her pick may invigorate fundraising efforts with people she has known for years, supporters of Ms. Harris told the Journal.
Mark Pincus, founder and chairman of videogame company Zynga Inc., said the vice presidential candidate is the perfect person to navigate the relationship between Washington, D.C., and Silicon Valley. Mr. Pincus, a longtime supporter of Ms. Harris who co-hosted a fundraiser for her Senate campaign in 2016, said he is confident she would make smart decisions about whether the industry’s biggest players should have to overhaul their businesses.
“I don’t know where she’ll end up and she probably doesn’t have a firm point of view on it yet and that’s good,” he said. “We need someone who’s going to want to take more of a lawyer’s approach in a way of wanting to get into the facts of data and arguments, and not just looking for political solutions.”
Heidi Messer, co-founder and chairwoman of New York-based Collective[i], which offers artificial intelligence and predictive technologies for sales teams, said Ms. Harris will help shape Mr. Biden’s tech policy agenda.
Ms. Harris has expressed concern about facial recognition and other AI technologies that could perpetuate racial bias, highlighting the issue in public appearances and in the criminal justice plan she released as a presidential candidate. Ms. Messer said there is a place for regulation, but technologies like facial recognition have applications that are positive, such as cracking down on human trafficking.
“My experience with Senator Harris is that she is very thoughtful and wants to learn,” she said. “Hopefully she’ll bring that approach to tech given the chance we have to embrace the opportunity underlying the massive economic, technological and social changes underfoot.”
Wall Street Sighs In Relief
Wall Street’s warm welcome to Joe Biden’s running mate reflects a belief that tougher financial regulation isn’t a top priority.
When Joe Biden announced California Sen. Kamala Harris as his vice presidential pick, he pointed to her tough-on-banks record. Much of Wall Street cheered anyway.
The warm welcome reflects some relief that in choosing Ms. Harris, Mr. Biden has—for now at least—fended off the more progressive wing of the Democratic Party that has called for tougher financial regulation.
During her own primary campaign, Ms. Harris managed to impress a Wall Street set that tends to be fiscally conservative and socially liberal. As Mr. Biden’s running mate, they see a noncontroversial partner—closely aligned with him on the issues nearest and dearest to their hearts—and an asset with big donors.
About half a dozen leaders in business and finance said they expect Ms. Harris to be a moderate voice committed to rebuilding an economy upended by the coronavirus pandemic.
They expect her to take some swings at Wall Street; as California attorney general, she helped take big banks to task for their role in the foreclosure crisis, and she has proposed taxing financial transactions to pay for a health-care overhaul. But they said they won’t take it personally.
“I think she is a reasonable, rational person who has worked in the system,” said Bill Daley, Wells Fargo & Co.’s head of public affairs and a former chief of staff to President Obama. “Is she a progressive? Yes. Is she someone who wants to burn the building down? No. I think she wants to strengthen the building.”
Ms. Harris proved adept at courting wealthy donors in the Hamptons and Martha’s Vineyard while speaking credibly to middle-class concerns. She sought input—and money—from CEOs across industries for her campaign in listening sessions, and touted her record supporting small-business owners at an event in Iowa sponsored by Goldman Sachs Group Inc., the Wall Street powerhouse.
Blair Effron, co-founder of boutique investment bank Centerview Partners who donated to Ms. Harris’s presidential primary campaign, called her “direct but constructive.” He said Ms. Harris thinks big business has “a responsibility to be part of the solution, but she makes clear how we will all benefit with shared prosperity.”
Ms. Harris’s record as a prosecutor could signal a tougher stance on consumer protection, but new financial regulation—much of it relaxed under President Trump—is likely to take a back seat to the more immediate task of repairing the economy.
“She thinks what’s good for business should be and can be good for the country,” said Charles Phillips, co-chair of the Black Economic Alliance and a longtime Harris supporter. “She wants to figure out a way for the system to work for everyone and expand the pie.”
Ms. Harris, the daughter of Indian and Jamaican immigrants who was elected to the Senate in 2016, is no stranger to the corporate world. As the San Francisco district attorney and California’s attorney general, she was seen as someone who has been, at times, sympathetic to the technology industry, understanding its economic potential for the state even as it brought rising inequality and social backlash.
Her primary campaign focused on taking on Mr. Trump before switching strategies in an attempt to widen her appeal, highlighting a “3 a.m. agenda” that includes a middle-class tax cut, gender pay equality and a refundable tax credit to help with rising costs of housing.
To some Wall Street executives, Ms. Harris’s selection signals a more moderate shift for the Democratic Party, which its progressive flank has pushed to the left in recent years. She edged out more-liberal vice presidential contenders—particularly Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who called for tighter banking regulations—and is now positioned as a front-runner to one day succeed the 77-year-old Mr. Biden should he win the presidency.
“While Kamala is a forceful, passionate and eloquent standard-bearer for the aspirations of all Americans, regardless of their race, gender or age, she is not doctrinaire or rigid,” said Brad Karp, chairman of law firm Paul Weiss, who co-led a committee of lawyers across the country who supported Ms. Harris during the primary.
In speeches, private fundraisers and announcements, Ms. Harris also has made clear that she won’t tolerate wrongdoing. She has said she might support proposals that could curb the advantages of big businesses or the wealthy.
Chief among those ideas: a tax of financial transactions, a policy also favored by Ms. Warren that would eat into Wall Street profits. Ms. Harris has said she would use the tax to pay for a government-run health-care plan that would still allow a limited role for private insurers.
Ms. Harris hasn’t served on the Senate Banking Committee and has had limited direct dealings with Wall Street, but she has taken some political shots at big business.
She said the Paycheck Protection Program, a $670 billion pot of emergency-loan money for companies, was “put in place to help sustain our small businesses, not to fill the pockets of large, wealthy corporations” and called for more transparency about where the money went.
In 2011, she pulled out of a national mortgage settlement with big banks and pursued a separate, costly settlement for California, a decision that catapulted her political career. But some officials involved in the negotiations have said her efforts to hold banks accountable amounted more to style—seen at times as impeding a resolution—than substance.
“Not great for financial [companies] but not a game changer,” KBW analyst Brian Gardner wrote in a note to clients.
Sarah Palin Offers Advice And Congratulations To Kamala Harris
Former Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin offered advice and congratulations to Sen. Kamala Harris on Tuesday shortly after the California Democrat was announced as former Vice President Joe Biden’s running mate.
Palin was on the ticket with Sen. John McCain of Arizona in 2008, the second woman to be on the ticket of a major political party. When Harris accepts the nomination next week at the Democratic National Convention, she will become the third woman and first Black and South Asian American woman nominated for the role.
“Congrats to the democrat VP pick,” Palin wrote in an Instagram post. “Climb upon Geraldine Ferraro’s and my shoulders, and from the most amazing view in your life consider lessons we learned.” In 1984, Democratic Rep. Geraldine Ferraro of New York was the first woman to be on a major party ticket.
Palin offered six pieces of advice to Harris, which included, “out of the chute trust no one new,” “fight mightily to keep your own team with you,” “don’t get muzzled” and “don’t forget the women who came before you.”
The former Alaska governor offered personal anecdotes from the campaign trail and warned Harris against those who may try to change her.
“Some yahoos running campaigns will suffocate you with their own self-centered agenda so remember YOU were chosen for who YOU are. So stay connected with America as you smile and ignore deceptive ‘handlers’ trying to change you,” Palin wrote.
Palin, who had served less than two years as the governor of Alaska at the time, was plucked out of obscurity by McCain to be on the Republican ticket.
She broke onto the national stage and delivered a fiery speech at the Republican National Convention, but would go on to stumble throughout the campaign and have a series of missteps and gaffes. McCain and Palin lost to Barack Obama and Biden later that year.
Palin’s advice to Harris reflects her own clashes with the McCain campaign. Days from Election Day in 2008, several McCain advisers suggested to CNN that they had become increasingly frustrated with what one aide described as Palin “going rogue.” McCain sources said Palin had gone off-message several times, and that they privately wondered whether the incidents were deliberate.
A Palin associate countered and told CNN Palin was simply trying to “bust free” of what she believes was a damaging and mismanaged roll-out.
In her Instagram post, Palin urged Harris to fight to keep her own team with her because “they know you, know your voice, and most importantly are trustworthy.” The advice comes after Biden’s team announced earlier in the day who would serve as his vice president’s staff.
Palin defined two “fun terms you may learn” for Harris, including ” ‘OTR’ – an orchestrated campaign stop that’s meant to look un-orchestrated where you ‘normalize’ in front of voters,” and a campaign “ropeline.” Harris has been in the national spotlight, as a US senator and a former 2020 presidential candidate herself.
Palin spoke fondly of meeting Americans on the rope line at campaign events, writing, “Every single handshake and holler and hug and smile melted my heart, energized my soul, and gave me the utmost hope in the greatest country on earth!”
The former governor recounted a time on the campaign trail when she had forgotten to pack her running shoes, which resulted in the “media detailing my every move trying on shoes.” She also noted the difficulty of trying to eat in front of cameras.
Palin said she would later post more for Harris, “including one of the funniest things in my life, right before my debate with Sen. Joe Biden,” but her parting advice to the senator was: “have fun!”
“This IS the greatest country in the world,” Palin wrote, “and hopefully you’ll be blessed beyond belief, like I was, with meeting new people from all walks of life and see just how great it is!”
What A Biden-Harris White House Could Mean For Tech Policy
VP pick Kamala Harris would bring strong personal ties to Silicon Valley, but also some tech skepticism.
Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s selection of Sen. Kamala Harris as his running mate suggests Big Tech might avoid the hammer blow of a breakup if the ticket wins the White House.
Public scrutiny of fields such as artificial intelligence, digital surveillance and cybersecurity have sparked more talk in Congress about a slew of new laws for the tech industry. Tech executives and venture capitalists have high hopes California’s junior senator will bring a moderate touch to those conversations and to regulating large and small businesses alike.
“How do you do that without creating unintended consequences?” said Casey Ellis, founder of San Francisco-based cybersecurity startup Bugcrowd Inc. “That’s a hard problem to solve, and I think she’s been pretty thoughtful about it.”
A native of the San Francisco Bay Area, Ms. Harris served as California’s attorney general as Silicon Valley companies such as Facebook Inc. and Alphabet Inc. grew into global titans and critics began questioning their influence.
While vice presidents have limited power to shape or enforce policy from the White House, advocates say she could help prioritize the tech industry’s policy wishlist, which includes issues such as immigration reform. The Trump administration has curtailed visas for highly skilled workers, drawing rebukes from Silicon Valley in recent months.
“There should be policies to, in a controlled way, allow those people to come over,” said Umesh Padval, a partner at San Francisco-based Thomvest Ventures who invests in cybersecurity and cloud-infrastructure startups. “The tech industry prospered on this.”
In a New York Times interview last year, Ms. Harris didn’t say whether the federal government should break up Big Tech, but did call for consumer privacy protections. Though California has a statewide privacy law, company officials and industry lobbyists have increasingly called for a federal standard to avoid a patchwork of state-level statutes.
“Our hope is that a potential Biden and Harris administration will be able to move that up the prioritization list,” said Peter Leroe-Muñoz, senior vice president of tech and innovation policy for the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, a trade association.
A federal privacy law could have a significant effect on international data flows and digital trade, said Nick Elledge, chief operating officer at Palo Alto, Calif.-based DataFleets, which offers a platform for training AI models without moving private data. Innovation in AI and other areas requires access to massive troves of data, he said, and the lack of a U.S. privacy standard could inhibit data flows between the U.S. and other countries or regions, such as the European Union, that have stronger laws.
“We’re currently headed toward the Balkanization of international data,” Mr. Elledge said. “That’s bad for all [artificial intelligence and machine-learning] initiatives, whether it’s for financial fraud detection or medical imaging to fight cancer.”
Ms. Harris might be more skeptical toward other technologies.
A former prosecutor, she has expressed concern that facial recognition could perpetuate racial bias by misidentifying people of color at disproportionately high rates. Civil liberties groups increasingly have pushed for regulating, if not banning, the use of facial recognition technology. Major tech companies, including Microsoft Corp., have stopped selling the technology to police in the absence of federal regulations.
“The issue of reducing algorithmic bias based on race, gender, etc. is already key for her and is likely to become even more important,” said Arijit Sengupta, founder and chief executive of Aible Inc., a Foster City, Calif.-based AI company.
Ms. Harris has also criticized social media, including its impact on U.S. elections and the spread of misinformation and hate speech. A growing number of lawmakers from both parties have responded by suggesting changes to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which shields internet companies from liability for user content.
Mr. Biden has previously said he wants to revoke Section 230, but advocates say the liability shield is critical for the open internet in its current form. Ms. Harris, who’s been targeted by disinformation campaigns, has backed narrower reforms to the law.
“Harris’ stronger relationships in Silicon Valley might make [revoking Section 230] less likely,” said Shuman Ghosemajumder, global head of AI at Seattle-based infrastructure and cybersecurity firm F5 Networks, Inc. “On the other hand, she could help convince tech companies of the need for regulation.”
Trump Uses Coronavirus Briefing To Criticize Biden’s Mask Mandate, Decry Mail-In Vote, Question Kamala Harris’s Eligibility As Vice President
President Donald Trump on Thursday evening blasted Joe Biden’s call for a national mask mandate, challenged the security of mail-in voting and questioned the eligibility of Kamala Harris as a vice presidential candidate, during a wide-ranging news briefing intended to provide updates and information about America’s battle against the worst pandemic in a generation.
“We will continue to urge Americans to wear masks when they cannot social distance, but we do not need to bring the full weight of the federal government down on law-abiding Americans to accomplish this goal,” he declared at Thursday’s briefing, criticizing comments Biden made earlier in the day.
“It’s up to the governors and we want to have a certain freedom,” the president said, adding that each state is “facing unique circumstances” in their fight against the disease. “Americans must have their freedoms and I trust the American people,” he said.
The comments from the president come after presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden on Thursday called for a national mask mandate to limit the spread of COVID-19, stepping up his rhetoric on the issue after criticizing Trump’s own stance earlier this summer.
Biden, speaking during a brief appearance before reporters in Wilmington, Del., said that “every single American should be wearing a mask when they’re outside for the next three months at a minimum.”
Trump blasted Biden for what he described as politicizing the viral outbreak to score “political points,” while he used much of the press briefing in attempt to outline differences between the former vice president and himself as the race for the White House heats up. “Stop playing politics with the virus,” Trump said, at one point.
The president also emphasized his optimism about the prospects for a vaccine and remedies for the deadly illness.
The global tally of confirmed cases of COVID-19 climbed to 20.6 million on Thursday, with the death toll rising to 749,656, according to data aggregated by Johns Hopkins University. At least 12.8 million people are confirmed to have recovered. The U.S. has 5.19 million cases, and COVID-19-related deaths stand at 166,027.
Meanwhile, Trump attempted to clarify comments that he made about not funding the U.S. Postal Service and criticism of mail-in voting during a Fox Business Network interview, when he was asked about the issues preventing a deal with Democratic lawmakers on another coronavirus relief package.
The president said he would rather not provide funding to the USPS and encouraged voters to physically travel to voting stations even if the virus was still not under control on Election Day on Nov. 3.
“We want to have an accurate vote,” he said, suggesting that voting by mail is vulnerable to fraud. “I am not saying anything wrong with voting, I want them to vote, but that would mean they would have to go to a voting booth like they used to and vote,” he said.
“We want people to vote so when they vote it means one vote. It doesn’t mean ballots all over the place,” Trump continued.
Trump currently trails in national opinion polls and has repeatedly attacked mail-in voting this year, claiming that expanding such voting would lead to large-scale fraud in the election. Independent researchers have found no widespread cases of such voter fraud in past races. A number of states have conducted elections primarily by mail, and others are rolling out mail-in balloting.
He also claimed that countries like China, Iran and Russia could create counterfeit ballots.
Trump’s challenges to USPS funding have fueled allegations that he is trying to hamstring the service ahead of the presidential election where mail-in voting is likely to be crucial.
Later in the briefing, Trump declined to denounce claims that Harris doesn’t meet constitutional requirements to serve as Biden’s running mate. She is the first Black woman and the first person of Indian ancestry on a major national ticket.
“I just heard today that she doesn’t meet the requirements, and by the way, the lawyer who wrote that pieces is a very highly qualified, very talented lawyer. I have no idea if that’s right,” he said.
“I would have assumed the Democrats would have checked that out before she gets chosen to run for vice president,” he said in a response to reporter’s question.
The questions abut Harris follow an op-ed in Newsweek by John C. Eastman, a law professor at Chapman University, who argued that because neither of Harris’s parents were naturalized U.S. citizens at the time of Harris’s birth in 1964, she is not a “natural born citizen” and therefore “ineligible for the office of the president and, hence, ineligible for the office of the vice president.” A claim that has been refuted by experts, including in Newsweek.
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