Vice President-elect Kamala Harris is making history as the first African American woman and first South Asian American woman to attain the second-most-powerful job in the United States, yet the campaign that brought her there was bruising at times.
Harris parlayed a career as a California prosecutor, attorney general and U.S. senator to become a top-tier contender in the Democratic race for the presidential nomination, standing out in a field of more than two dozen candidates.
She surged toward the top of the pack after a Democratic debate in June 2019 in which she confronted Joe Biden, one of the party’s long-standing leaders, about his views on race relations. Biden was stunned by the attack in which Harris criticized his opposition to federal busing policies during the 1970s and his working relationship with segregationist lawmakers. He called the attack “a mischaracterization of my position across the board.”
Harris was not able to sustain her climb to the top of the Democratic field, with her poll numbers dropping during the summer and fall of 2019, followed by a decline in donations. She dropped out of the race in December 2019 and endorsed Biden in March 2020 after it became clear he was likely to win the nomination.
Whatever animosity was generated between the two candidates on the campaign trail appeared to vanish as Biden secured the nomination and began a lengthy search for his vice presidential running mate. His selection of Harris brought new political energy to his presidential campaign and was praised by many in the Democratic Party.
Timeline of events
January 21, 2019: Harris announces she is running for president, one of more than two dozen Democratic candidates seeking the nomination to challenge President Donald Trump.
June 27: Harris directly challenges Biden in a Democratic debate about his views on race relations, taking command of the debate stage and propelling herself into the top presidential contenders.
December 3: Following a drop in the polls over the summer and fall and struggles to raise money, Harris drops out of the race.
March 8, 2020: Harris endorses Biden for president, saying she believes the former vice president can unify the country.
August 11: Harris is chosen as Biden’s vice presidential running mate, becoming the first African American woman and first South Asian American woman on a presidential ticket.
August 19: Harris accepts the Democratic vice presidential nomination during the party’s convention, pledging to make America more inclusive.
November 7: Biden and Harris are declared the winners of the presidential race despite unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud by President Donald Trump.
January 20, 2021: Harris is to be sworn in as vice president of the United States.