WILMINGTON, Del. — The Democratic ticket is finally complete. Joseph R. Biden Jr. and Kamala Harris, two Democrats from opposite coasts and different generations, are expected to make their first appearance as running mates in Wilmington around 4:30 p.m. Eastern time on Wednesday.
Ms. Harris made an unannounced appearance at the Hotel du Pont, a grand old Wilmington hotel, shortly before 1 p.m., waving to a smattering of cheering fans who had gathered on the street corner before walking indoors to a ballroom that workers had been preparing for days.
As the new Democratic ticket prepares to step into the spotlight, here are four tasks they face:
Show they are simpatico. Mr. Biden was fond of saying that he wanted a vice president with whom he was “simpatico” on how to confront the major challenges facing the nation. Now is the chance for him and Ms. Harris to demonstrate that.
After all, it was less than 14 months ago that Ms. Harris unleashed a scorching debate-stage attack on Mr. Biden, and some Biden allies harbored hard feelings toward her throughout the search process. How will they show that they are truly on the same page on the central issues of the campaign?
Demonstrate how they will take it to Trump. Ms. Harris, a former state attorney general and district attorney known on Capitol Hill for her pointed questioning style, liked to talk about prosecuting the case against President Trump. Now she will have her biggest platform yet. How will she be deployed to make that argument, and how will it differ from Mr. Biden’s approach?
Team up on selling an agenda that can win. Neither Mr. Biden nor Ms. Harris ran primary campaigns that revolved around policy plans, but they still will need to get on the same page. Some differences are evident, such as their split on health care, and Ms. Harris has appeared more comfortable speaking the language of the left than Mr. Biden has (though progressive activists have often viewed her skeptically).
But they are now joining forces in a radically changed political environment compared with when they were primary rivals, with the coronavirus and the economic recovery as dominant issues, as well as an intensified national focus on racial justice after the killing of George Floyd. Can Ms. Harris engage new constituencies around their shared agenda — and if so, which voters?
Figure out Harris’s role in the campaign. One big unknown is what the final months of the campaign will look like given the pandemic. Mr. Biden has made in-person appearances rather infrequently, and his critics sneer about how he is running for president from his basement. It remains to be seen how often and where Ms. Harris will campaign.
Mr. Biden has said he wanted a running mate who “has some qualities that I don’t possess.” How will the campaign use Ms. Harris’s strengths — as a historic candidate, a skilled public speaker and someone who represents the generational and racial diversity of the Democratic Party — to add fresh value to the ticket?