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Kamala Harris brings energy to Biden's restrained campaign

  • Published at 06:38 am October 25th, 2020
Kamala Harris
Filr photo: US Democratic vice presidential nominee Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) speaks during an election campaign event, in Cleveland, Ohio on October 24, 2020 Reuters

I'm Kamala Harris and I'm running to become the next vice president of the United States'

As she speaks to cheering crowds, drops in to neighbourhood coffee shops or pays "surprise" visits to college students, 56-year-old Kamala Harris has brought a jolt of youthful energy to the low-key presidential campaign of her 77-year-old running mate, Democrat Joe Biden.

"I'm very happy to be back in Atlanta, Georgia," she says as she steps jauntily down the stairs of a private plane onto the tarmac of the city's international airport in the autumnal warmth of the US South.

"I'm Kamala Harris and I'm running to become the next vice president of the United States."

Left unsaid is that she is the first Black woman and the first of South Asian descent to be on a major party's presidential ticket. 

Also Read - Biden, Obama slam Trump Covid-19 response, president stays optimistic

Normally reticent about speaking to the press, the California Democrat is visibly eager to make her boss's case in the final days of the campaign to unseat Donald Trump. 

In her tailored pants suits, high stilettos and black masks -- or in her jeans and Converse Chuck Taylor sneakers on more casual occasions -- she embodies the party's youth and diversity, reinforced by the credentials of a US senator and former California attorney general.

As such, she stands as a sort of counterpoint to the white-haired candidate atop the ticket.

In Georgia she keeps up a furious pace -- trying to make up for the months during which the coronavirus pandemic nearly paralyzed the Democratic teams' efforts to bring their message before a wide public.

But the two Democrats are still far from the pre-pandemic days when candidates would skip across the country in a single day -- as Republican Donald Trump is continuing to do, often paying little heed to Covid-19 safety precautions.

Targeted visit

In the name of caution, Biden and Harris have limited their travels, often accompanied by only small groups of journalists who have few opportunities to ask questions.

If this strategy is welcomed by public health experts, its effect can tend to mute their voices on the national media stage -- dominated, as it has been since 2016, by the omnipresent Republican billionaire.

But the race to the White House revolves crucially around a few key swing states. And a well-targeted visit, even a short one, can provide a boost when picked up by local news media.

Also Read - Fired-up New Yorkers stand in line for hours to cast early votes

Georgia, a Southern state with a history marred by slavery and segregation, has not voted for a Democratic presidential candidate since Bill Clinton, himself a Southerner, in 1992.

This time, polls show a tight race between Trump and Biden as record numbers of motivated Georgians have voted early in the state, where one-third of the population is African American. 

That has given Democrats hope.

Herself the graduate of such a school, Howard University in Washington, Harris has surprised the wide-eyed students in the middle of a meeting.

Afterward, the candidate takes part in a round-table with African American men. As always, she wears a mask and practices social distancing. 

Though she can sound scripted at times, Harris's passion comes through clearly here.

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