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Biden Chooses Kamala Harris For VP; Interview With Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-TX) And Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC). Aired 8- 9p ET

Aired August 11, 2020 - 20:00   ET



ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST, ANDERSON COOPER 360: Good evening, it is a historic night in this country regardless of your politics, it is a historic night in the historic arc of this country because a short time ago, Joe Biden chose Senator Kamala Harris of California to be his running mate for the Democratic presidential ticket.

She is the first black woman on a major party's presidential ticket. She is also the first Asian-American woman, as well. She is also the first candidate whose marriage is multiracial. Harris is the product of an American dream that began beyond these shores.

Her mother and father both immigrants from India and Jamaica, respectively, who not only rose to prominent positions in academia, but marched in the Civil Rights movement, giving what Harris has called a quote, "stroller eye view" on quote "of activism from a young age."

President Obama released a statement after her selection was announced. It reads in part, quote, "I've known Senator Harris for a long time. She is more than prepared for the job. She spent her career defending our Constitution and fighting for folks who need a fair shake. Her own life story is one I and so many other can see ourselves in, a story that says that no matter where you come from, what you look like, how you worship or who love, there is a place for you here. It's a fundamentally American perspective, one that has led us out of the hardest times before and it's a perspective we can all rally behind right now."

Let's get more from our senior Washington correspondent, Jeff Zeleny. So what are you learning about how this decision came about?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, good evening. We're learning some new details and we are told that about 90 minutes before this announcement was made, which was about 4:15 or so here in the East, so at about 2:45 or so, Senator Harris was at her Washington condominium and she received a phone call with a job offer from former Vice President Joe Biden.

Of course, they have been talking throughout this process. They had at least one meeting that we know of, which was a virtual meeting before this, but it was an offer of a job to join the presidential ticket, the Democratic ticket there. Now, this is really the end of what had been a three-month process or

so and it ended in the place that many Democrats thought it would at the very beginning.

They have always seen Senator Harris as one of the strongest choices largely because of her experience on the campaign trail. She has been -- has at least in the former Vice President's eyes, but he did look at least 11 other women.

Of course, he pledged at the final debate of the Democratic primary that he would put a woman on the ticket, so that, you know, certainly was the guiding principle through all of this.

So, it was a robust vetting, but in the end, Senator Harris was perhaps the lead choice all along.

COOPER: And as your understanding is, why did the former Vice President feel she was the strongest contender?

ZELENY: I mean, he really looked at this, but we are told, one of the central principles was his own relationship with former President Barack Obama, who I am told acted as a sounding board in this process.

He did not put the thumb on the scale, say who he favored or preferred, but it was that relationship, I'm told that the former Vice President Joe Biden was looking for, a governing partner, someone he could find to be loyal and trustworthy and more importantly, the fact that she had national campaign experience.

Joe Biden knows how hard it is to run for President, so he wanted someone who had been tested out there. But it was also the historic nature of this choice.

There is no question the challenges facing our country, rebuilding after the protests of the summer. The economy, the coronavirus. This is something that he thought she was ready for.

So there is a combination of factors, but certainly the historic choice and the fact she had run before and she is a bridge to a new generation.

He had talked about that repeatedly that he is simply a place holder here.

So, she is 55 years old. Almost 20 years younger than him and finally, Anderson, it was the connection to Beau Biden. She served as California Attorney General. He was the Delaware Attorney General.

This of course is the late Vice President's son who is a guiding light to him. So it was their relationship and their working relationship that made her almost seem like family, I am told to the Bidens despite their rivalry during the campaign. It was something that obviously, Joe Biden was able to move on beyond.

COOPER: Yes, Jeff Zeleny. Jeff, thanks. Arlette Saenz is in Wilmington, Delaware where both former Vice President Biden and Senator Harris are expected to appear tomorrow for the first time together as the Democratic ticket.

Do we know much about how today played out for her?

ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: Well, we know that Joe Biden made that Zoom call to give her the news that he would be selecting Kamala Harris as his running mate.

Kamala Harris we know had spent a few days in Washington, D.C. Before this and tomorrow we expect that she will be here in Wilmington, appearing alongside Joe Biden for the first time as his vice presidential pick.

They will be doing an event, giving remarks here in Wilmington, Delaware and then right after that, they are participating in a grassroots virtual fundraiser, the first time that they will be connecting with their supporters as they are looking to energize this Democratic base heading into the November election.


SAENZ: And the last time, you know, Biden and Kamala Harris faced off several times over the course of the Democratic primary, but the first time that they actually appeared together after Harris had endorsed Biden was in early March at a campaign rally in Detroit that actually was the last major rally that Biden did before the coronavirus pandemic, brought campaigning to a complete standstill.

And at that event, as Jeff kind of talked about, that was the event where Biden said he considered himself to be the bridge to the future of the Democratic Party. It was on that stage where he had Kamala Harris on one side and standing on the other side of him was Michigan Governor, Gretchen Whitmer; and New Jersey Senator, Cory Booker was also there.

So this is a very also symbolic pick just thinking back to the moment where he stood alongside Kamala Harris and said that he viewed himself as a bridge to the future.

And as Jeff noted, Kamala Harris had this relationship with Beau Biden and that really can't be understated in this whole process.

Biden rolling this out, said that Beau Biden, his late son, he valued his opinion more than anyone else's and that that played a major factor in this decision.

It's going to be a busy few weeks for Kamala Harris as she steps into this running mate role. There is that slate of events tomorrow I'm told that the finance team is also preparing fundraisers for her to do over the course of the next month and then one week from tomorrow, she will be delivering that speech where she accepts the vice presidential nomination at the Democratic Convention in a virtual format.

COOPER: I mean, you followed Joe Biden on the campaign trail. Do you know much about their actual relationship? I mean, obviously, as you said, he knew she had worked with his son. Do we know how much of an actual relationship they had with each other? SAENZ: Well, you know, they encountered each other several times over

the course of the Democratic primary, at debates and other larger presidential forums.

They have had a friendly relationship. I recall one photo where Kamala Harris was actually driving and saw Joe Biden walking and I believe, she jumped out of her car to take this photo with Joe Biden.

So, they have been friendly over the years. That relationship with Beau Bidden will be a big factor as they start to form the building blocks of this working relationship.

Biden is looking to replicate that relationship that he had with President Obama and while he and Kamala Harris may not be incredibly, incredibly close at the beginning, he at least sees a long term potential to develop that relationship over the coming years should they make it to the White House.

COOPER: They clearly overcame any animosity that they may have had about the confrontation they had at that first debate. Arlette Saenz, appreciate it. Thanks very much.

On February, during the Democratic primary season, Joe Biden appeared on a CNN Town Hall. He was asked a very simple and now, very instructive question by someone in the audience about the process of picking a running mate. What would be his criteria when it came time to choose?


JOE BIDEN (D), PRESUMPTIVE DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: I have to pick someone, if God forbid something happened tomorrow, if I contracted what my son had or something like that that the person is ready on day one to be President of the United States.

But the second criteria is I very much like my administration to look like the country, like Barack administration looked like -- black, brown, women, men, gay, straight -- across the board to look like the country.

As Vice President, I think it would be wonderful to have a woman or a person of color as Vice President.


COOPER: Joining us now Gloria Borger, Abby Phillip, Bakari Sellers and Nia-Malika Henderson. Nia, Senator Harris is the first, obviously, black woman on a general election ticket. It is a historic night. It is -- while it may not have been a surprising choice in the list of people he was choosing when you step back and you pointed this out earlier in the day, I mean, it is no matter how far this country has come, it's still startling for many people.

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: Yes, it is and we'll have to see how voters actually respond to this. You know, I made the comment that it was a risky pick given what we know about the forces of American racism and sexism. Forces we've seen play out quite boldly in 2016.

Obviously, with Hillary Clinton facing sexism and then if you just look at the history of women who have been on tickets. Geraldine Ferraro and then Sarah Palin and then you look way back to Shirley Chisholm. Her goal was to broaden America's imagination in terms of who they thought could hold positions of power.

What we know presently is that America has not been comfortable with having black women in positions of power. There are very few black women in Corporate America, right, who are CEOs, black women bosses.


HENDERSON: There has never been a black woman who is Governor. There have only been two black women who have been senators. So, this idea that this is inevitable, that this is safe, it isn't safe.

And listen, some African-Americans who I've talked to are kind of worried about what is this actually mean for the ticket?

You know, Democrats obviously are relying on suburban white voters to pull the lever for Joe Biden and now, Kamala Harris. Will Kamala Harris in some ways end up being a turnoff for some of these voters because we've seen what happened in the past with some of these voters being uncomfortable with black people holding power, and certainly, never necessarily pulling the lever for a black woman.

So this is Joe Biden asking voters to do something that they have never done before and we saw, right, in this past primary, the safe choice was Joe Biden.

Hillary Clinton wanted to make a vice presidential pick, her safe choice was a white man. When Barack Obama wanted to make his pick in 2008, the safe choice was a white man.

So this notion that somehow this is conventional, this is safe, and this is inevitable, just not borne out by the facts and also, I think it erases the enormous work that has gone into this, not only from Kamala Harris herself, but the generations of black women who came before her and current black women who really put this notion out there that it was time to have a black woman at this level.

COOPER: Abby, Joe Biden has called himself a transitional figure. We talked about just a short time ago, he would be the oldest president ever elected. There are a lot of people who believe he wouldn't run for a second term, obviously, if he gets elected. That's one step if he decides to run again, that would be another step.

How much does it raise the stakes for the pick that Joe Biden decided to make? Certainly, it raises stakes for Kamala Harris as a candidate, and potentially as a Vice President.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: It's incredibly important, Anderson. I mean, this is such a consequential pick and for any Vice President, but certainly for one who I think a lot of people in the Democratic Party believes might only serve one term. For Joe Biden, this choice was about deciding who he thought was the

most likely to be able to carry on a mantle after he was to leave office and Kamala Harris is someone who, for a long time in the Democratic Party has been seen as a bright rising star and one of the things that I've been told by people close to them over the last several months, especially after she left the Democratic race was that Biden was careful to really extend a hand, to keep communication up between the two of them, encouraging her to remain a part of the party.

Because inevitably, I think he understood that no matter whether he picked her as a Vice President or chose her in another capacity, she would have a critical role.

You know, Kamala Harris is someone who is not easy necessarily to put into a hold. One of the challenges of the Trump campaign it is going to face in the coming months is figuring out how to position her.

She was able to -- she took some positions in the primary that many people viewed as being -- geared towards progressives, but if you look back at her record, she has a more nuanced record in her time as Attorney General.

And so, as a political figure who is both very well-known because she has been vetted in the Democratic process, she is also someone who I think there is quite a lot that the political universe does not know or understand about her and in that respect, I think that she has an opportunity now to write her own story and to write her own story in conjunction with Joe Biden for the future of the Democratic Party.

And so we'll see what that actually ends up looking like, but that is one of the reasons that this pick is so important because unlike many of these other candidates that he was considering, she is young. She is long been viewed as the future of the party and she has this ability to continue to write her narrative going forward and not just be defined by her past political jobs and ambitions.

COOPER: Bakari, there is obviously the historic piece of this in the arc of American history and then there is also the very practical things that she brings to the ticket. I wonder if you could talk about both.

BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, well, I mean, the arc of justice, it always moves slowly and I think the black women -- not think, I know that black women have toiled in the proverbial vineyard long enough.

We listen to -- I speak to Kamala often and one of the things she says is that black women are tired of being thanked. They have been the backbone of the Democratic Party for generation after generation after generation and for a long period of time, been taken for granted.

And so Joe Biden uniquely enough has is a transcendent figure in Democratic politics. Yes, Joe Biden has been a transcendent figure in Democratic politics. He was the Vice President for Barack Obama and now, he has chosen Kamala Harris. And so Kamala, she stands on the shoulders of not just Fannie Lou and

not just Ella Baker, but also stands on the shoulders of Shirley Chisholm and Barbara Jordan and Carol Moseley Braun et cetera et cetera and Hillary Clinton, and she understands that.


SELLERS: This is a phenomenal pick tonight and I must say this, and I don't want to erase her mother at all because we have to remember that she is the first woman of Asian-American and Indian-American descent to actually be at the top of the ticket.

And so, this is a fascinating night and what we're seeing with the two parties is the narrow focus is going to be on the fact that Donald Trump and the Trump campaign have no way and they do not know how to deal with Kamala Harris.

It very difficult to say Kamala is a cop and then be a law and order President. Those two things simply do not mesh. Not only are they ahistorical and accurate, but they simply politically -- the message is they collide. So that's first.

But second, it shows that the Republican Party and Democratic Party are going in two vastly different directions. The country is becoming more diverse. The country is becoming more brown. Joe Biden and Kamala Harris represent the demographics of what the country will be and Donald Trump and Steven Miller and Mike Pence represent a day that's passed.

So what I would say tonight is while Donald Trump and Mike Pence want to cheer them in confederacy, while they are trying to figure out how to get their face on Mount Rushmore, what we are trying to do is reimagine what this country will look like, and that's what Joe Biden and Kamala Harris represent.

It goes back to a time where Americans can feel good about being first and about thinking about what our country can be, full of hope and faith.

COOPER: You know, Gloria, it's often said that picking of a Vice President is the first most important decision that a President makes. I'm wondering what you think the process was like for Joe Biden.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think it was lengthy and typical of Joe Biden, I know, from talking to my sources that he read everything and even though he knew some of these women from debating them or serving with them in the Senate, he watched them as they appeared on television.

He interviewed them, and he considered it all in terms of who he was as Vice President and spoke with Barack Obama about this and understands what it is that a President values in a Vice President and I think, of course that's loyalty and that's confidence, somebody who can govern from day one.

What this also, in an interesting way, tells you about Joe Biden and I was e-mailing with one of his top advisers today is that in choosing someone who did go after him on the debate stage, he showed that he is not Donald Trump.

I mean, you heard Donald Trump at his press conference today talk about how quote, "nasty" Kamala Harris is. That's the word he likes to use with women I might point out and this is just the opposite of that.

Biden got dinged by her on the debate stage and moved on because that's who he is.

COOPER: Any woman who seems strong or asks a tough question --

BORGER: Nasty.

COOPER: Nasty. That's the word --

SELLERS: Or black, Anderson, or black.

COOPER: There is that, yes. Everyone, thank you.

Still ahead, tonight, a look at Kamala Harris's presidential campaign during the primary season with one of our reporters who followed her every step of the way and later, the people and events who helped form who Harris is now from her early life to her rise in California politics today.



COOPER: We're going to take a look tonight at the long road Senator Kamala Harris traveled to become the presumptive Democratic Vice Presidential nominee, would include to run for the presidency which began in January last year to cheers and boisterous applause from her supporters.


SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), PRESUMPTIVE DEMOCRATIC VICE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: So let's remember, in this fight, we have the power of the people. We can achieve the dreams of our parents and grandparents. We can heal our nation. We can give our children the future they deserve.

We can reclaim the American dream for every single person in our country, and we can restore America's moral leadership on this planet.


HARRIS: So let's do this.


COOPER: Let's bring in Kyung Lah who covered Senator Harris from when she announced until the day that she dropped out. What was it like following her on the campaign trail? KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That example that you

just played, that launch in Oakland, it really was emblematic of the fascination that people had with her on the campaign trail.

There were about 20,000 people according to the police department spilling in streets of Oakland, and it's something that you really felt along the way. People wanted to be around her.

There was a charisma, a fascination, for a lack of a better word, Anderson, a bit of celebrity surrounding Kamala Harris. They always wanted to show up, take a selfie and get close to her.

So that's something that you felt regardless of whether you were in Iowa, New Hampshire or in Oakland, California.

And something that also I found really poignant is that Harris took a lot of pictures. And I snapped this picture exactly a year ago. I caught her in a moment that she was just preparing to take the stage in Mount Pleasant, Iowa a very, very small town, like all of the other events, it was extremely packed and this was a year ago as she was preparing to take the stage. She is now preparing to take the stage as the vice presidential candidate for the Democratic Party.

So not exactly where she pictured herself a year ago, but certainly, an important role, nonetheless, a historic one.

COOPER: And obviously, she dropped out of her campaign to get the nomination for President. You spoke obviously to a lot of her supporters at campaign events.


COOPER: What kind of audiences did she appeal to?

LAH: And this is really something that I think the Biden campaign was paying attention to. Because if you went to a Kamala Harris event, again, no matter where it was, you saw an incredible amount of diversity.

It was majority female, almost every single event I went to and again, regardless of the demographics of that town that you were in, it was incredibly diverse, as diverse as the town would bear and there were a lot of parents, a lot of suburban women and mothers bringing their young daughters to the event just so they could see the example of Kamala Harris.

So that's certainly a different sort of energy, a different audience and a different level of interest and passion and identity that the Biden campaign certainly must have taken notice of.

COOPER: What ultimately went wrong for her? I mean, after that first debate where she went over Biden, her numbers rose. She got a lot of focus, a lot of attention and then she got slammed at the second debate by Biden. I can't remember who else it was who sort of went after her. I think it was Klobuchar. What went wrong? LAH: Well, right after that first debate, it was in the days right

after where she couldn't quite articulate the nitty-gritty of policy, of exactly what she felt and explaining it in a clear cohesive manner and being consistent.

But remember, this is a very different time politically for the Democratic Party. So at this point, we're talking about how you felt about Medicare-for-All, how you felt about segregation, busing and what that meant.

Those are issues that really are important to the Democratic Party, but are different when you put it within the context of going against Donald Trump.

So a very different time today, Anderson. But yes, it was sort of that nitty-gritty that stumbled her.

COOPER: Kyung Lah, appreciate it. Thanks.

There has been a lot of talk of history tonight. We want to get perspective from two people who made a bit of their own as Members of the Congressional Black Caucus.

Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee and Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton. Appreciate both of you being with us.

Congresswoman Jackson Lee, I wonder your thoughts are as you reflect on this candidacy.

REP. SHEILA JACKSON-LEE (D-TX): Well, we're making history tonight joining myself with a great leader herself, Eleanor Holmes Norton, I am delighted to be with her.

There was much reflection, but a lot of tears and a lot of reflection on the history of what we are making today.

What I would say is that so many women have tried to climb that mountain top that Dr. Martin Luther King spoke of in the early 1800s searching the truth, tried to move into the suffragette movement.

We know Madam C.J. Walker tried to be a businesswoman. We know of Shirley Chisholm, Barbara Jordan, and Fannie Lou Hamer.

I think today, it is evident that there is an affirmation not only black women, but women of Southeast Asia, women of color that they have finally reached a status where they are affirmed in this nation as equal partners and this mountain that we've all been trying to climb, Kamala has taken us to the mountain top.

It's an enormously important moment and it's based upon her own history and talent as she led such a large department in the A.G.'s office, 4,800 staff and a $700 million budget. It has now been affirmed that women can lead.

COOPER: Congresswoman Norton, I guess the same question to you, which is a couple weeks past Congressman John Lewis's funeral, of course. We're seeing racial inequalities in American society, you know, clearly in the forefront of people's minds. What does Senator Harris on the ticket mean to you?

DELEGATE ELEANOR HOLMES NORTON (D-DC): Well, Anderson, they have thrown out or at least Biden threw out the old playbook where you look to balancing the ticket for instance, geographically, well, she is from California, she is going to get that state anyway.

So he wanted a new way to quote "balance the ticket." He wanted to make history, and that's what he has done. We have had white women on the ticket. We have never had an African-American woman and he also needed to excite the ticket.

We hear -- below the surface, we hear the notion that he has got a lot of support, but the excitement is not yet there. I think this woman will bring excitement that the ticket needs.

She went to Howard University, I have to say representing the District of Columbia, so there is a very special pride in that and it also shows that Biden is a very big man. He doesn't hold grudges because none of his opponents went at him in quite the way that Kamala Harris did.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Congresswoman Jackson Lee, you've worked with Senator Harris on criminal justice reform. You know, there are some in the Black Lives Matter movement, for instance, who may look at some younger people in particular who may look at her record as a district attorney and say, well, you know, they would have liked to have seen her do more on criminal justice reform when she was part of the system. What do you say to that argument to convince people otherwise?

REP. SHEILA JACKSON LEE (D-TX): Well, first of all, we have to know that Kamala was both a local prosecutor Cindy Harris, as well as an attorney general. I look to the fact that she won the state of California with progressives and moderates and in between. And that she ran this enormous department. But what I saw when policy became her purview. Soon as she walked into the United States Senate, we began to work on her passion bail reform, to not hold people unnecessarily that had not been prosecuted. She began to work on mandatory minimums and sentencing reduction and ultimately prison reform and working on incarcerated women. And frankly, join me on the Juneteenth holiday.

When she had the chance to engage in policy, she was astute, well informed, and she had the passion of knowing the history of her heritage. And by the way, she joined a sorority, and that's a big deal happens to be Alpha Kappa Alpha. She had a holistic view to her service. And that service was when there were problems. When there was problems in the criminal justice system. She had no fear in bringing her policy and her knowledge of criminal justice law or criminal law to the table of reform. That's what I like about Senator Harris. She was prepared to tackle this head on. And she didn't allow her past history of being a prosecutor to stop her from being merciful and changing the laws.

COOPER: Congresswoman Norton, it's, you know, it's interesting that we earlier Nia-Malika Henderson were saying, was commenting that some people today have been saying, well, this was a safe choice for him. It's kind of the expected choice. She was pointing out, look, this is a risky choice that there is still systemic racism, there is still, you know, this is a barrier that has not been broken. And do you think the country is ready?

NORTON: For an African-American woman?


NORTON: Oh, I believe so. I believe so. Because the, the country seems to have tired of the same old way to approach the presidency. And if you are Joe Biden, you need to show that you are not from the old school. If you one way to show you're not from the old school is to choose an African-American woman. We have seen that women who by the way, the reason we took back the House of Representatives are driving this election cycle. And when you consider the what has been in the streets about DA and reform, fallen George Floyd's murder, I think that Kamala Harris can turn on its head, her role as a GA. To be sure she did some reforming of the DAs role, but here where that role is at the top of the consciousness, she will be able to say I know exactly what to do now that the streets have been taken over by people who want just the kind of reform she has had experience in and can lead further.

COOPER: Congresswoman Jackson Lee, the -- you know, it's one thing to -- she has run a national campaign unsuccessfully but she has also run very tough campaigns and face, she's been in the arena for a while now and she's, you know, one gets better. The more you -- the more you're out there, the more your campaign when you're in the game. How important you think that is and how important you think that was for Vice President Biden to know that he was picking somebody who had experienced in the ruffled -- rough and tumble of not only that had she been vetted, but it just in the rough and tumble of day to day campaigning.

JACKSON LEE: Anderson, that is why this is also so doubly significant. Because those of us who know Joe Biden and know his heart and I've seen him work his great effort as part of his legislative agenda was the Violence Against Women Act. Know that he has always affirmed women. But he knows that this is having been through a number of campaigns himself. This is not a party, and as evidenced by the first words from President Trump negative words about the relationship between the President, Vice President and Senator Harris, as it related to the debate. She has been in the rough and tumble, she can respond very clearly in attacks that will come against her.


The good news is in her own presidential campaign, she reached suburban women, urban and rural areas. She didn't leave any area out and she was as gracious and engaging in all of those areas. She will be an asset in the outreach to those communities and women being over 51% but more importantly, in the hard knocks of politics and campaigning, I think Senator Harris will astutely be able to handle but we'll come at it. They will use the vice presidency against Joe Biden. The Trump campaign will do so, they're doing so now, but she is knowledgeable in Intel, knowledgeable in judiciary and the issues of law. And I think she will be far ready for that campaign.

COOPER: Yes. Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, Eleanor Holmes Norton, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

NORTON: Thanks.

JACKSON LEE: Thanks for having me.

COOPER: I'm going to take a closer look at who Biden has chosen to be his running mate. How Kamala Harris has made history more ways than one, next.



COOPER: Eighty-four days from Election Day and announcement from the history books a black and South Asian American woman has been chosen for the very first time to compete on a major party ticket. Many of you are familiar with Senator Kamala Harris with her own run for president but may not know her backstory. Randi Kaye tonight has a profile of Joe Biden's new running mate.



RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): And now Kamala Harris can add two more words to that description running mate, the first time Black woman nominated in that role.

HARRIS: I stand before you today to announce my candidacy for President of the United States.

KAYE (voice-over): It wasn't that long ago that Kamala Harris had her own plans to unseat President Donald Trump.

HARRIS: I feel a sense of responsibility to stand up and fight for the best of who we are. And I'm prepared to fight and I know how to fight.

KAYE (voice-over): Big dreams for the daughter of two immigrants who she says came to America to pursue their own dreams. Camilla Harris was born in 1964, the daughter of a Jamaican father and Indian mother. She attended both a Christian church and a Hindu temple as a young girl while growing up near Oakland, California. Her parents separated when she was just seven years old. Harris later attended Howard University, the historically black university in Washington, D.C. She began her law career after returning to California.

HARRIS: It was just a couple of blocks from this very spot. Nearly 30 years ago, as a young district attorney, I walked into the courtroom for the first time.

KAYE (voice-over): Harris became San Francisco's district attorney in 2004.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Congratulations attorney.

KAYE (voice-over): In 2011, she became California's first black female Attorney General. She considered herself an innovator on crime, including a controversial truancy program, which threatened to jail parents for failing to get their children to school. She married an L.A. lawyer in 2014 and has two stepchildren who she says call her mamla. In 2017, Harris became only the second black woman elected to the U.S. Senate.

HARRIS: I did.

KAYE (voice-over): It was there that Senator Harris's experience as a prosecutor was on full display. Her no nonsense, rapid fire, slicing and dicing of testimony during key televised hearings, kept witnesses on their toes. When she grilled then Attorney General Jeff Sessions about whether he had context with Russian nationals during the 2016 campaign, he practically pleaded for mercy.

HARRIS: I do want you to be --

JEFF SESSIONS, FMR ATTORNEY GENERAL: I'm not able to be rushed this fast. It makes me nervous.

KAYE (voice-over): In 2018 she set her sights on Trump's pick for the Supreme Court. Brett Kavanaugh.

HARRIS: Can you think of any laws that give government the power to make decisions about the male body?

BRETT KAVANAUGH, ASSOCIATE JUSTICE, SUPREME COURT: I'm happy to answer a more specific question.

HARRIS: Male versus female.

KAYE (voice-over): And last year, Senator Harris boldly took on Attorney General William Barr,

HARRIS: Has the President or anyone at the White House ever asked or suggested that you open an investigation of anyone yes or no please, sir.

WILLIAM BARR, ATTORNEY GENERAL: The President or anybody else --

HARRIS: Seems you'd remember something like that and be able to tell us.

KAYE (voice-over): She also took on her now running mat.

HARRIS: I do not believe you are a racist and I agree with you, when you commit yourself to the importance of finding common ground. But I also believe and it is personal and I was actually very it was hurtful to hear you talk about the reputations of two United States senators who built their reputations and career on the segregation of race in this country. And it was not only that, but you also worked with them to oppose busing.

And, you know, there was a little girl in California, who was part of the second class to integrate her public schools as she was bused to school every day. And that little girl was me.

KAYE (voice-over): Despite Harris's story, some have challenged her racial identity, and criticized her for identifying as black when her parents are Jamaican and Indian.

HARRIS: I'm black.


HARRIS: And I'm proud of being black and I was born black. I will die black. And I'm proud of being black. And I'm not going to make any excuses for anybody, because they don't understand. This is the same thing they did to Barack. They're trying to do what has been happening over the last two years, which is powerful voices trying to sow hate and division among us. And so we need to recognize when we're being played.


KAYE (voice-over): Harris ran on Medicare for All. She opposes the death penalty and is hesitant to commit on reparations. She likes the green new deal and is in favor of legalizing marijuana. She's also a proponent of LGBTQ rights.

HARRIS: I now declare you spouses for life.

KAYE (voice-over): Officiating at the first legal same-sex marriage in California back in 2013. In March, after Biden became the presumptive nominee, Kamala Harris, officially through her support his way.

HARRIS: I have decided that I am with great enthusiasm, going to endorse Joe Biden for President of the United States. I believe in Joe, I really believe in him and I've known him for a long time.

KAYE (voice-over): Once a challenger, now a partner.

HARRIS: I intend to fight for truth and transparency and trust. I intend to fight.

KAYE (voice-over): And with the Biden-Harris tickets set, they could soon make history. Randi Kaye, CNN, Palm Beach County, Florida.


COOPER: We have more on Kamala Harris in the next hour. There is news on the pandemic front from Vladimir Putin of all people, he claims Russia has approved the world's first COVID-19 vaccine. Questions loomed large over safety and effectiveness. We have the head of the state run fund bankrolling the effort and Sanjay's take on it, next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Vladimir Putin took the state TV today to talk about what he's calling the world's first approval of a COVID-19 vaccine. He says his daughter is taking it and has slightly higher temperatures after each dose but quote now she feels well. It's been named Sputnik V, a referenced this prize launched in the 50s, the world's first satellite by the Soviet Union.


Moscow is brushing off skepticism and concerns about the vaccines efficacy or safety. We have the head of the Russian direct investment fund. That's bankrolling the research. Kirill Dmitriev, along with our chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

Mr. Dmitriev. I appreciate you being with us. Earlier, early clinical trials of the vaccine. They haven't been peer reviewed, and there's no detailed data that's been published about them. I'm wondering, will that be forthcoming? And if not, why not?

KIRILL DMITRIEV, CEO, RUSSIA DIRECT INVESTMENT FUND: Well, yes, of course, all of the data will be published in August and Russia is very forthcoming about the information. And I think when we analyze this further, it's important to separate sort of reaction to this in the U.S. and some western countries to the rest of the world. And I can go into this a little bit later.

SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICIAL CORRESPONDENT: Mr. Dmitriev thank you for joining us. You know, I've been following the vaccine sort of trials from the start. And, you know, things have moved at a remarkable pace much faster than I think vaccine trials have in the past. But still, they're nowhere near this space that, you know, many of them are starting Phase 3 trials just now. How is it that you've already had a vaccine that's approved? Has it gone through all the standard clinical trials that these types of vaccines go through?

DMITRIEV: Yes, thank you, Dr. Gupta, and I'm a great fan, I read your books a lot. So, we need to understand several things about the Russian vaccine. So first of all, is the history of very strong vaccine development in Russia. You may know that Catherine the Great received vaccination in 1768, before any American vaccine was available for the next 30 years. And frankly, we had great scientists, but also we will like it because Russia had some headstart on this vaccine, because there was lots of work being done on MERS.

So when coronavirus came about we just use the work we had on Ebola and MERS and we really had a very proven vaccine platform, platforms that was tested on thousands of people. And, you know, this platform very well is adenovirus human vector platform. And the benefit of this platform is that it's been developed over the last six years tested on thousands of people, and it's very different from mRNA, or monkey adenovirus that have not been tested for a long time is that the north have long term studies of those approaches.

So, we believe that adenovirus human vector is the way to go as a company such as CanSino in China, and Johnson & Johnson also use human adenoviral vectors. And we have a great technology that if you understand you will be really impressed with which is we use two different adenovirus vectors to deliver this vaccine. We believe two shots are needed for long term unity. And for two shots, you need to have two different adenoviral vectors. So, we have great scientists. It went through clinical Phase and Phase 2 trials, and the rollout in Russia will be very gradual. We are not going to give it to 10 million people tomorrow. It's going to be a very gradually, careful rollout going forward.

GUPTA: And I just I just want to be sure, I appreciate that explanation. Mr. Dmitriev. It's this question about you presumably generated neutralizing antibodies in response to this vaccine, which is something that a lot of these candidates are looking for. But I think the question has still been, are they -- those neutralizing antibodies going to do that going to do the job, sir? Right. I mean, if you give this to people, are they going to actually provide strong and long term protection? And the only way to know that is to test it in tens of thousands of people of different ages and different medical, sort of pre existing conditions, all of that, isn't that necessary? Because the message seems to be coming that this is approved ready to go. It doesn't sound like you're at that point yet.

DMITRIEV: Well, sure, you're right. The data will be forthcoming certain animals. We have actual is the only labs that has a lethal animal model and it showed 100% protection on animals. And also, we really analyzed the clinical results we have, and the rollout going forward will be very careful. So we'll give it to high risk groups going forward. And the ethics is very important, because how do you not give to people something that we believe is proven, and can save them when you have it.

So, it's not just an ethics of checking it, but an ethics of protecting our frontline medical workers, people who are at high risk, and those will be the people who will voluntarily receives a vaccine. So, all of the data will be forthcoming. And you will see it's very impressive data.

And I want to underscore two things. First of all, our vaccine platform is much more proven than some others out there. So if you have unproven mRNA, and you test it on 30,000 people, you still don't know long term effects. And the second point is the skepticism in the west is actually too many things Russia does. If we were to introduce water into the U.S. market, we will get common sense problems, save or get some vodka in it or the recipe was stolen.


So, I think we need to separate general skepticism from the actual science. We have a size Sputnik vaccine will come that has all of the data and more data will be published

there as well.

COOPER: The World Health Organization, they said that, quote, accelerating vaccine research should be done following established processes through every step of development to ensure that any vaccines that eventually go into production are both safe and effective. To those who are saying that this vaccine was rushed. I mean, you say you, you believe it's been proven? How has it been proven? Effective?

DMITRIEV: Well, it's been proven through Phase 1, Phase 2 trials, we will have phase three trials in many other countries in UAE, Saudi Arabia, Brazil, and Philippines. So --

COOPER: So you haven't done Phase 3?

DMITRIEV: Well, according to Russian law, when you have a pandemics when you have epidemia like this, you can do Phase 3 concurrently with launches of vaccine to high risk groups which we are doing. We believe that's exactly the right approach. And this approach makes sense. And the rest of the world knowing some of the science behind the vaccine really likes what they see, we received thousands -- 1 billion doses pre order already for the vaccine.

So, I think time will tell the success of the Russian approach. I think if in six months, it's successful. There will also be lots of questions that would be asked, why would some other countries instead of studying this a little bit more, given it some benefit was about understanding the technology sort of blindly rejected. And I think it's related to political barriers. It's selected to other things that are more politics isn't science.

GUPTA: OK, yes, I just want to make sure that we're addressing this clearly sir, you know. So the Phase 3 trials are going to include these people who are considered high risk such as healthcare workers, for example, presumably you're going to get a diversity of people in terms of ages and pre-existing medical conditions, but you're just targeting a specific population. It sounds like to begin Phase 3 trials. And then you'll know for with greater certainty whether or not this works, but you can't say that it works at this point.

DMITRIEV: No, we can say that that works. You know, I've taken it myself, I've given it to my parents, to my wife. If you learn the science, and we're happy to share it with you, you will be much more convinced, and other companies are following our steps such as Johnson & Johnson and CanSino. And we will start massive explanation of Russians in October. This section will be available to other countries around November. And we know that technology works. And we will publish the data in August and September to demonstrate that.

So, it's a gradual rollout in August and September will give of course, some additional data, but our Minister of Health, our bureaucrats would not have approved it unless they were absolutely confident that technology works, that it shows incredible safety and efficiency. And safety is at the core of the vaccine. Because again, as I mentioned, it's proven over the last six years platform that Russia had and had a head start on it, versus some other nations will started to use more novel approaches not proven before.

COOPER: Mr. Dmitriev, I appreciate your time. Thank you very much.

GUPTA: Thank you.

COOPER: I hope this works. And we'll certainly look forward to the release of the data you said it's going to be coming in August. We look forward to that. Thanks very much.

DMITRIEV: Thank you so much.

COOPER: Sanjay, I'd like to have more with you on this in the next hour.

Coming up, the presidential race has changed today in a big way. The question is how will Kamala Harris impact Joe Biden's been moving forward. Much more in this historic running mate selection and reaction, coming up.