Harris bringing energy, dollars and more to Biden's campaign

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Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved

Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., speaks during a news conference with Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden at the Hotel DuPont in Wilmington, Del., Thursday, Aug. 13, 2020. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

WILMINGTON, Del. – In her first two days as Joe Biden's running mate, Kamala Harris has fired off the campaign's sharpest criticism of President Donald Trump's shortcomings. She has vouched for Biden's character on race and more. And the enthusiasm surrounding her historic candidacy has brought in a record $48 million in 48 hours.

The campaign hopes it is just the beginning.

With less than three months before the election, Harris is rapidly embracing her new role. Democratic operatives and Harris allies believe she'll energize what has been a relatively quiet campaign that has often preferred to keep the attention on the turbulence of Trump's White House. She's already making a vigorous case for Trump's defeat, allowing Biden to focus more on his own policy prescriptions and less on direct attacks.

“We always look for surrogates and validators that help close the deal and can speak to voters who needed another reason to say, ‘Yes, I’m gonna support Joe Biden,’” said Donna Brazile, a former Democratic National Committee chair who also ran Al Gore's 2000 campaign. “She fills in the gap.”

Harris was known during the Democratic presidential primary for wearing Converse sneakers and dancing with staff and supporters in unscripted moments. Biden allies expect her to deliver enthusiasm among some Democrats who oppose Trump but aren’t yet energized to vote for a candidate they feel may be out of touch with their concerns.

Harris’ “ability to connect” is part of what California Rep. Barbara Lee, who served as one of her campaign chairs, believes will help her deliver the campaign message to voters who may be otherwise tuned out.

“She loves to dance. She loves to cook. She’s a person who does normal things that everybody does. They can relate to her,” Lee said.

Still, Harris, the first Black woman selected for a national ticket, has faced her own criticism from young voters and progressives in the past, namely over her record on police misconduct as a district attorney and later California's attorney general. Critics say she opposed key criminal justice reform measures, including police body cameras statewide, and didn't address a number of wrongful convictions on her watch.