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Former Democratic Party Chief Of Staff On Biden's Pick For Vice President


Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee, has made his pick, and it is California Sen. Kamala Harris as his running mate. The two are to make an appearance together tomorrow from Wilmington, Del. And our next guest, the Reverend Leah Daughtry, is a former chief of staff of the Democratic Party. She was CEO of the Democratic National Conventions in 2008 and 2016, and she joins us now to talk about Kamala Harris and what she will bring to the ticket.

Reverend Daughtry, welcome.

LEAH DAUGHTRY: Thank you. Thank you so much for having me.

KELLY: What does she bring to the ticket, in your view? Why is Kamala Harris the right pick?

DAUGHTRY: Well, you know, she brings, obviously, the ability to run strong campaigns. She serves in the Senate as a first-term senator from the state of California. She understands the criminal justice system, which is so badly in need of reform right now. She brings the ability to connect with various communities that this Democratic Party needs, and she brings vision to the Joe Biden ticket to really help and support and uplift the things that Vice President Biden wants to do. And she's going to be an excellent - a fantastic running mate. And of course, the thing that I'm most excited about as a Black woman is that she brings all of us in her lived experience to this ticket in a way that is historic, that we've never seen before in this country.

KELLY: Yeah, not something to get lost in this is that this is, for the Democrats, the first woman to run for vice president and the first African American woman.

DAUGHTRY: Well, she's not the first woman. We had Geraldine Ferraro.

KELLY: I beg your pardon. You're absolutely right, correct. So to follow up on something you said, though, which is her ability and what she can do in the campaign in terms of turning out votes, she ran an unsteady presidential campaign, I think it's fair to say, last year. She was also a rival to Biden. They exchanged sharp words. How did they manage to sort through that?

DAUGHTRY: Well, I think they're both not novice. Neither is a novice politician, and we know how campaigns go. After all, Joe Biden ran against Barack Obama in 2008 and took some hard jabs. But in the end, you know, they were able to come together and recognize what each brought to the campaign and the value that Joe Biden would bring to Barack Obama and the value that Sen. Harris will bring to Joe Biden.

While her campaign in the cast of thousands didn't necessarily break through, what we were able to see is her empathy and the way that she connected with people on the road as she was campaigning and in the debates. She's a sharp debater. I can't wait for the Pence debate. She's also - she knows the issues. She knows the policies. And when I say she brings voters, I mean the millions of African American voters that just got really energized and are ready to go out and work to make Joe Biden the president in November.

KELLY: We have a minute or so left, and I do want to follow up on something else you mentioned, which is her track record in law enforcement, a track record that has already attracted a lot of - many questions. How much scrutiny are you expecting on that front, particularly in this moment when there is so much focus on the question of law enforcement and policing?

DAUGHTRY: The - I think she'll get the appropriate amount of look-see, as we all - so we know a lot of it already from her presidential campaign. But there is so much more that we don't know. And so I'm looking forward to people really learning more about her work to get people's records expunged so that men could have a life after law enforcement, to deal with truancy in a decent and fair way. And I think it's a conversation that this country is ready to have, and I think she's the best person to have it.

KELLY: That is Reverend Leah Daughtry. She's a former chief of staff of the Democratic Party.

We appreciate your time. And congratulations on what I know is a big day for your party. Thanks very much.

DAUGHTRY: It's a big day. Thank you.

KELLY: Bye-bye.

DAUGHTRY: Bye. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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