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Why Kamala Harris Is A Game-Changing Vice Presidential Pick

U.S. Senator Kamala Harris speaking with attendees at the 2019 National Forum on Wages and Working People hosted by the Center for the American Progress Action Fund and the SEIU at the Enclave in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Gage Skidmore
U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris speaks with attendees at the 2019 National Forum on Wages and Working People in Las Vegas.

On Wednesday night, Sen. Kamala Harris accepted the Democratic Party’s vice presidential nomination. Her acceptance marked the culmination of one of the longest and most critical vice presidential searches in the nation’s history.

On Thursday's St. Louis on the Air, one of the nation’s foremost experts on the vice presidency, Joel Goldstein, joined the program. He is a professor of law emeritus at St. Louis University School of Law and the author of “The White House Vice Presidency: The Path to Significance, Mondale to Biden.”

Among the unique aspects of this historic pick, Goldstein said, was former Vice President Joe Biden’s early announcement that he would choose a woman to join his ticket.

“Although it’s the third time that a woman has been selected to run for vice president, it’s the first time that a ticket that is perceived to have a very good chance of winning has selected a woman as a running mate,” Goldstein said.

But Harris brings far more than her just her sex, he said.

“I think Sen. Harris had the advantage of being a United States senator. … She was viewed as somebody who would be an effective campaigner,” Goldstein noted. “She has acquitted herself as an able questioner of Supreme Court nominees and of Justice Department officials” in congressional hearings.

Goldstein added that the racial justice movement sparked this spring after the killing of George Floyd also likely played a crucial role in Harris being chosen.

“There was a significant move that it would be desirable, if possible, to have a woman of color on the ticket. I think the confluence of all those factors led to Sen. Harris’ selection,” he said.

Goldstein also took questions on vice presidential history from listeners and discussed how a college term paper first got him interested in studying the office.

St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is hosted by Sarah Fenske and produced by Alex Heuer, Emily Woodbury, Evie Hemphill and Lara Hamdan. The audio engineer is Aaron Doerr.

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Lara is the Engagement Editor at St. Louis Public Radio.
Alex is the executive producer of "St. Louis on the Air" at St. Louis Public Radio.