WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Senator Kamala Harris accepted the Democratic nomination for vice president on Wednesday, imploring Americans to elect Joe Biden in November and accusing President Donald Trump of failed leadership that had cost lives and livelihoods during a pandemic.
Making history as the first Black woman and Asian-American on a major U.S. presidential ticket, Harris said Trump’s divisive leadership had brought the country to an “inflection point” and made a direct appeal to the party’s diverse electorate whose vote is crucial to defeat Trump on Nov. 3.
“The constant chaos leaves us adrift, the incompetence makes us feel afraid, the callousness makes us feel alone. It’s a lot,” the California senator and former prosecutor said, speaking from an events center in Biden’s hometown of Wilmington, Delaware, that was largely empty because of the coronavirus outbreak.
“We must elect a president… who will bring all of us together — Black, White, Latino, Asian, Indigenous — to achieve the future we collectively want. We must elect Joe Biden,” she said.
Former U.S. President Barack Obama, speaking just before Harris, also delivered a sharp rebuke of his Republican successor, saying Trump had used the power of his office only to “help himself and his friends.”
Obama, whose vice president was Biden from 2009-2017, said he had hoped that Trump would take the job seriously, come to feel the weight of the office, and discover a reverence for American democracy.
“For close to four years now he has shown no interest in putting in the work… no interest in treating the presidency as anything but one more reality show that he can use to get the attention he craves,” Obama said, in unusually sharp criticism of a sitting president by a former president.
Harris’ nomination capped the third night of a party convention that has featured a crush of women headliners, moderators and speakers, showcasing the growing power of women in politics and in the Democratic Party. Biden leads Trump in opinion polls, bolstered by a big lead among women voters.
Biden, 77, would be the oldest person to become president if he is elected, leading to speculation he will serve only one term. The nomination for vice presidency would make Harris, 55, a potential top contender for 2024.
The speech by Harris served as a reintroduction to the country after her unsuccessful White House bid. Harris outlined her background as a child of immigrants from India and Jamaica who as a district attorney, state attorney general and now vice-presidential candidate shattered gender and racial barriers.
She said she was able to make history because of the trailblazing efforts of women before her who fought for the right to vote.
“That I am here tonight is a testament to the dedication of generations before me,” she said. “They organized, marched, and fought — not just for their vote, but for a seat at the table.”
‘NO MATTER WHAT, VOTE’
Trump issued three tweets in all capital letters during the last half of the convention program, angrily criticizing Harris and Obama and questioning their allegiance to Biden.