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Kamala Harris Takes the Spotlight

kamala harris nomination1

Kamala Harris Takes the Spotlight

Kamala Harris Takes the Spotlight, a Moment for Her and History

As a barrier-breaking candidate, and as the running mate to a 77-year-old, Ms. Harris arrives at the Democratic convention carrying an extraordinary set of hopes and expectations from party members.

kamala harris nomination1

 

Kamala Harris stood before the Democratic Party on Wednesday as the bridge between a moderate generation of leaders and younger liberals on the rise, balancing the obligations of promoting Joseph R. Biden Jr. while offering herself to someday lead the party into a post-Biden era.

Pressures, hopes, aspirations — this was the burden on Ms. Harris at the Democratic convention, as she sought, in telling the story of her life, to introduce herself to a nation and a party that really barely knows her. But this is also the burden that will be on her for the next four years if she and Mr. Biden win in November.

Rarely has a vice-presidential candidate served under a presidential nominee who well may not seek a second term. As a result, Ms. Harris carries an extraordinary weight of expectations from her party to rise to the demands of leadership.

“That’s a lot to put on the shoulders of a person,” said Tim Kaine, the Virginia senator who was the vice-presidential candidate for Hillary Clinton in 2016. In the tumultuous tent that is the ever-changing Democratic Party, he said that there was no one person Mr. Biden could have chosen who would appeal to everyone.

If anything, the first two days of the convention were about the party trying to paper over any kinds of disagreements, aiming to present a united front of moderates and progressives, as well as some Republicans and democratic socialists. With elaborate videos and stage-managed speeches, Democrats showcased diversity — racial, gender, age — while nominating a 77-year-old white grandfather from Delaware as their standard-bearer. Party leaders gave small slots to liberals, though barely gave a platform to their policy goals like “Medicare for all.”

For the time being, the party’s desire to beat President Trump overrides all other factors. But if the Democrats succeed, Mr. Trump will be gone, and the challenge of satisfying the many constituent parts of the Democratic Party will become only more difficult for Ms. Harris, the figure who is supposed to be that bridge for generations and the face of the party’s future.

Like every vice-presidential candidate, Ms. Harris will be judged in the coming weeks in a multitude of ways: her ability as a campaigner, and her skill at drawing in President Trump, debating Mike Pence and exciting turnout among voters — particularly younger voters and progressives — who might not be overly enthusiastic about turning out in a pandemic to support Mr. Biden.

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