Joe Biden picks Sen. Kamala Harris to be his vice presidential running mate



Wall Street executives are glad Joe Biden picked Kamala Harris to be his VP running mate KEY POINTS

  • Presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden has chosen Sen. Kamala Harris of California to be his running mate.

  • Widely considered a moderate Democrat, Harris will be the first Black woman nominated as part of a major party ticket.

  • The announcement caps off a monthslong process that saw nearly a dozen prospective running mates vetted by the Biden campaign.

Wall Street leaders on Tuesday cheered Joe Biden’s selection of Sen. Kamala Harris as his running mate in the presidential election.

Finance executives, confident the ticket has what it takes to topple President Donald Trump, raved about her experience in government, as well as her fundraising prowess. 

“I think it’s great,” said Marc Lasry, the CEO of investment firm Avenue Capital Group. “She’s going to help Joe immensely. He picked the perfect partner.” Lasry is also a part owner of the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks. 

Blair Effron, the co-founder of Centerview Partners, texted “GREAT CHOICE” to CNBC. Citigroup’s Ray McGuire sent a similar message. 

When she ran for president last year, Harris saw contributions from executives in a wide range of industries, including film, TV, real estate and finance, according to data from the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics. Her campaign finished raising close to $40 million.

Harris, who dropped out of the race in December, opened up a joint fundraising committee with the Democratic National Committee earlier this year, allowing her to raise six figure checks that mainly went to the party as a whole. 

Harris, a former California attorney general, also overcame headwinds from a group of Biden allies who privately tried to block her from becoming the nominee for vice president.

Financial advisory firm Signum Global is already telling its clients that the choice of Harris reinforces the notion that the Democratic ticket is more moderate than progressive. 

Jon Henes, a partner at corporate restructuring firm Kirkland & Ellis who was Harris’ national finance chairman when she ran for president, told CNBC that the choice shows Biden’s strong judgement. He added that her supporters are ready to give Democrats the backing they need to defeat Trump. 

“Vice President Biden’s first decision is the perfect one and demonstrates his excellent judgement,” Henes said. “Kamala’s supporters will follow her lead and work non-stop to help Biden and Harris win this historic and critical election.” 

Prior to Biden’s announcement, his fundraisers were plotting a virtual fundraising blitz that is now set to feature Harris. Her addition to the ticket could help push the Biden campaign over the top in the cash race with Trump.

Last month, Biden and the Democratic National Committee combined to raise $140 million, while Trump and the Republican National Committee brought in $165 million. Biden and the DNC went into August with $295 million on hand and Trump’s team had $300 million.

Mike Kempner, the founder of public relations juggernaut, MWWPR, lauded Harris’ fundraising track record. 

“She has a strong and active fundraising organization. She will be an important and immediate addition to the Biden fundraising effort. She is a fundraising star,” Kempner said. “Her experience as a prosecutor makes her uniquely qualified to deliver the case against Trump.”

Charles Myers, the founder of Signum and a former vice chair of Evercore, told CNBC that the choice eased the nerves of clients who were questioning whether Biden would stay in the moderate lane. 

“Our clients really wanted to know if Biden was going to stay in the center, and his pick of Harris reinforces that,” he said on Tuesday. 

A note he sent to his clients reinforced that point. 

“Harris, who generally could be called a centrist, will not push Biden to the left or the right on major policy issues. She will be supportive of Biden and the Democratic Party’s policy platform,” the note reads. 

Following the announcement, Rice complimented Harris in a statement, calling her “a tenacious and trailblazing leader who will make a great partner on the campaign trail.” Bass did the same, saying in a tweet that Harris’ “tenacious pursuit of justice and relentless advocacy for the people is what is needed right now.” Harris has a uniquely American biography: Her mother was a widely respected breast cancer researcher who immigrated to the United States from India in the 1960s. Her father, Donald Harris, is an eminent economist who spent much of his career at Stanford University. Also an immigrant, Harris moved to the United States from Jamaica around the time his future wife came from India.  A first-term senator who served as California’s attorney general from 2010-16, Harris has drawn on her personal and professional experience to emerge as a leader in the Senate on racial justice issues.  “We’ve all watched her hold the Trump administration accountable for its corruption, stand up to a Justice Department that’s run amok, and be a powerful voice against their extreme nominations,” said Biden in his announcement Tuesday, touting her experience in the Senate. “She’s been a leader on criminal justice and marriage equality. And she has focused like a laser on the racial disparities as a result of the coronavirus,” Biden said.

A member of the Judiciary Committee, Harris in 2018 co-sponsored the first-ever bill to make lynching a federal crime. The bill passed the Senate and the House overwhelmingly, but a final version was blocked by Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky. 

Harris was also a co-author this spring of Democrats’ broader police reform legislation, drafted in response to the national uprising that followed the death of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man killed by Minneapolis police in May, and the fatal police shooting of Breonna Taylor, a Black EMT, at her home in Louisville, Kentucky, in March. 

Yet Harris, like Biden himself, is considered a moderate Democrat and a pragmatic lawmaker rather than an ideologue. This could complicate incumbent President Donald Trump’s effort to portray Biden as a tool of the “radical left.”

Already on Tuesday there were signs that the Trump campaign has yet to decide how to attack Harris. In a written response to Biden’s announcement, a Trump campaign spokeswoman accused Harris of being both too progressive and not progressive enough, saying Harris attempted to “bury her record as a prosecutor, in order to appease the anti-police extremists” yet also claiming her selection was proof that Biden would pursue “the extreme agenda of the radicals on the left.”

In reality, Harris has repeatedly teamed with Republican colleagues to draft legislation during her three years in the Senate. 

This includes working on an election security bill with Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., the anti-lynching bill with Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., and a workplace harassment prevention bill with Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska. 

Harris has even won plaudits from Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and a staunch Trump ally — albeit one whose personal friendship with Biden goes back some 30 years. 

Speaking to radio host Hugh Hewitt about Harris in May, Graham said, “I think she’s the leading candidate [for Biden’s running mate]. I know her. I didn’t like what she did in the Kavanaugh [Supreme Court confirmation] hearings by any stretch of the imagination. But she’s hard-nosed. She’s smart. She’s tough.”

The announcement comes after a four-month selection process that saw at least a dozen prominent women vetted for the position. 

The vice presidential selection committee was headed by former Sen. Chris Dodd of Connecticut, one of Biden’s oldest friends. Other members included Biden campaign co-chair Eric Garcetti, the mayor of Los Angeles; Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester, who represents Biden’s home state of Delaware in the House, and Cynthia Hogan, who served as counsel to Biden in the Senate and later in the Obama administration. 

Throughout the process, insiders say, Biden’s top priority has always been to select a vice president he can trust, someone with whom Biden can have the same deep personal relationship he had with President Barack Obama during his eight years as vice president. 

Biden’s strategy for choosing a running mate has evolved over the past few months as his lead over Trump in national polls and battleground states has increased.

During the late winter and spring, when Biden was still locked in a primary battle against Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., many on his campaign team saw the vice presidential pick primarily as a chance for Biden to name a progressive who could help him unite the establishment arm of the Democratic Party with its left flank. 

But as Biden’s lead over Trump grew in the late spring and summer, progressive Democrats coalesced around him.

By early July, instead of needing a vice presidential candidate who could help galvanize support on the left, Biden’s advisors had come to believe he merely needed one who would “do no harm” to his strong standing in the polls.

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