WASHINGTON — Kamala Harris crashed through one of the world’s highest glass ceilings on Saturday to be elected America’s first woman vice president, making history and helping bring to an end Donald Trump’s turbulent rule.
Harris came into Tuesday’s election already a repeat trail blazer as California’s first black attorney general and the first woman of South Asian heritage elected to the US Senate.
By winning the vice presidency, she will be a heartbeat away from leading the United States and poised on a stepping stone to the ultimate prize.
With the 77-year-old Biden expected to serve only a single term, Harris would be favored to win the Democratic presidential nomination four years from now.
That could give her a shot at more history-making — as the first female president of the United States.
“This election is about so much more than Joe Biden or me,” she wrote
on Twitter after US news media called the election in their favor based on
“It’s about the soul of America and our willingness to fight for it. We have a lot of work ahead of us. Let’s get started.”
Since being tapped as Biden’s running mate in August, she has slammed Trump on his chaotic handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, but also racism, the economy, and the president’s crackdown on immigration.
Harris, 56, was born to immigrants to the United States — her father from Jamaica, her mother from India — and their lives and her own have in some ways embodied the American dream.
First ‘second gentleman’
When Kamala Harris makes history as the first woman and first black US vice president, her husband Doug Emhoff will break his own new ground: as the country’s first “second husband.”
Harris and Emhoff, who married in 2014 — she for the first time, he for the second — will also be the first mixed-race couple to occupy their positions.
He is white while she is the daughter of Indian and Jamaican immigrants. Both are 56.
The contours of Emhoff’s new role as the nation’s “second husband” —
some prefer “second gentleman” — have yet to be determined; he has been vague about his plans so far.
Traditionally, the spouses of presidents and vice presidents have been expected to forge a careful balance of supportiveness and independence.
Many pick a charitable cause to promote. Emhoff, who was credited as a “secret weapon” on the campaign trail for his wife — even earning his own following on social media — is an accomplished lawyer specializing in media, sports, and entertainment law.
Emhoff marks another milestone: he would be the first Jew to be part of America’s first or second families.
When Emhoff met Harris on a blind date arranged by friends, it was “love
at first sight,” he later said.
His children by his first marriage — Cole, named after John Coltrane, and Ella, named after Ella Fitzgerald — have embraced their stepmother as “Momala.”
Harris tells women she won’t be last
Introducing President-elect Joe Biden in an optimism-fueled outdoor rally, Harris sported a white suit in recognition of the suffragist movement that fought to give US women the vote a century ago.
“While I may be the first woman in this office, I won’t be the last,” she said to cheers and honks from the crowd gathered in socially distanced cars.
“Because every little girl watching tonight sees that this is a country of possibilities.”
Harris vowed to fight to “root out systematic racism” but, like Biden, made a broad appeal for unity, saying that Americans “have elected a president who represents the best in us.”
The California senator’s speech was in itself a sign of the prominent role that she has been given by Biden, with newly elected presidents historically keeping the spotlight on themselves rather than sharing the podium with their number twos.
A beaming Harris raised her hands in celebration as she entered to the energetic beats of Mary J. Blige’s song “Work That,” an ode to black women’s self-confidence.
Harris also paid tribute to her mother, Shyamala Gopalan Harris, who emigrated from India when she was 19 and died in 2009.
“Maybe she didn’t quite imagine this moment,” Harris said.
“But she believed so deeply in an America where a moment like this is possible.
“So I’m thinking about her and about the generations of women — black women, Asian, white, Latina, and Native American women throughout our nation’s history who have paved the way for this moment tonight.”