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Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., speaks during a news conference talking about the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, Jan. 16, 2020. (AP/Julio Cortez) Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., speaks during a news conference talking about the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, Jan. 16, 2020. (AP/Julio Cortez)

Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., speaks during a news conference talking about the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, Jan. 16, 2020. (AP/Julio Cortez)

Louis Jacobson
By Louis Jacobson August 11, 2020
Chris Nichols
By Chris Nichols August 11, 2020
Miriam Valverde
By Miriam Valverde August 11, 2020

If Your Time is short

  • Joe Biden picked U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris to run as vice president on the Democratic ticket against President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence.
     
  • As Biden’s pick, Harris became the first Black woman and first person of Indian descent to run as vice president on a major-party ticket.
     
  • Harris in December suspended her own campaign for president, saying it did not have the financial resources to continue. “I’m still very much in this fight, and I will keep fighting every day for what this campaign has been about: justice for the people, all the people,” she said.

Joe Biden picked U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris to run as vice president on the Democratic ticket against President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence.

Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, announced his decision Aug. 11.

"I have the great honor to announce that I’ve picked @KamalaHarris — a fearless fighter for the little guy, and one of the country’s finest public servants — as my running mate," Biden tweeted. "Back when Kamala was Attorney General, she worked closely with Beau. I watched as they took on the big banks, lifted up working people, and protected women and kids from abuse. I was proud then, and I'm proud now to have her as my partner in this campaign."

Beau, Biden’s son, died in 2015 after battling brain cancer. He served as Delaware’s attorney general and was an Iraq war veteran.

In choosing Harris, Biden set aside one of the biggest moments of a Democratic presidential primary debate, when Harris called him out on a controversial policy from decades ago: integrating segregated schools by busing. Harris claimed that when Biden was in the U.S. Senate, he worked to oppose busing to desegregate schools.

"There was a little girl in California who was part of the second class to integrate her public schools, and she was bused to school every day," Harris said. "And that little girl was me."

Harris in December suspended her own campaign for president, saying it did not have the financial resources to continue. "I’m still very much in this fight, and I will keep fighting every day for what this campaign has been about: justice for the people, all the people," she said.

As Biden’s pick, Harris became the first Black woman and first person of Indian descent to run as vice president on a major-party ticket.

Early life

Harris — whose Sanskrit-derived first name is pronounced "Comma-luh" — was born in Oakland, Calif., in 1964, the daughter of two immigrants, a medical scientist from India and an economist from Jamaica. 

Harris, 55, grew up in a Black middle-class neighborhood in Berkeley, where her parents would often join civil rights protests. Her parents separated when she was 5. When she was about 12, Harris moved with her mother and sister to Montreal for several years after her mother took a research position there.

Harris earned her bachelor’s degree at Howard University and her law degree at the University of California in 1989. 

Political career

Harris worked as a prosecutor in Alameda County (Oakland) and in San Francisco, then was elected San Francisco district attorney in 2003 and 2007. In 2010, she was elected California attorney general, then was re-elected in 2014.

Since winning her Senate seat in 2016, Harris has spoken out against Trump’s border wall proposal and his decision to pull out of the Paris climate agreement. In her own campaign for the White House, Harris supported a $15 minimum wage and was a cosponsor of the Green New Deal. She’s also supported universal background checks and an assault weapons ban. 

During her own presidential campaign, Harris was scrutinized for her own criminal justice record, since the party’s base has moved to the left since she was prosecuting offenders. Harris worked to reduce recidivism, eliminate bias in law enforcement, and — to wide controversy — did not seek the death penalty for a man suspected of killing a police officer.

However, as attorney general in 2016, she opposed a bill to require her office to investigate shootings by police, and she declined to weigh in on state ballot measures to legalize recreational marijuana and to reduce penalties for nonviolent crimes. And despite her personal opposition to the death penalty, Harris defended it in court as attorney general.

Top issues: Education, especially teacher pay; pay equity; criminal justice; health care; climate change; immigration

Key votes in the U.S. Senate: Voted against the Trump tax bill, 2017; against efforts to overhaul the Affordable Care Act in 2017; and against Supreme Court nominations of Neil Gorsuch in 2017 and Brett Kavanaugh in 2018. In 2020, voted to impeach President Donald Trump on counts of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

State and local offices: Prosecutor in Alameda County and San Francisco, 1990-2003; elected San Francisco district attorney, 2004-2011; elected California attorney general, 2011-2016.

Private sector work: None

Military: None

Books authored: "The Truths We Hold: An American Journey" (2019); "Smart on Crime: A Career Prosecutor's Plan to Make Us Safer" (2009)

Birth date: Oct. 20, 1964

Education: Howard University, B.A.; University of California Hastings College of Law. J.D.

Personal life: Douglas Emhoff (husband); two adult stepchildren

Religion: Baptist

Miscellaneous: Harris’ late mother was born in India, and her father was from Jamaica. She spent a portion of her childhood in Canada, when her mother was a medical researcher in Montreal.

Recent fact-checks

Fact-checking Kamala Harris’ claim about Donald Trump and investigations of police misconduct

Kamala Harris' claim about typical dad paying higher taxes than 400 richest families is Mostly False

Kamala Harris claimed she ‘sued Exxon Mobil’ as California AG. She didn’t.

No, America’s auto industry not expected to lose ‘as many as 300,000’ jobs, as Kamala Harris claimed

Was Kamala Harris ‘part of second class to integrate’ Berkeley's public schools?


CORRECTION, Aug. 19, 2020: This story was updated to reflect Harris' correct date of birth.

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