LIKE a connoisseur of offensive nicknames, Donald Trump likes to take his time to get just the right moniker for his enemies. Both Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton started off with a simple “Crazy” before their names before Mr Trump settled on Sleepy (Joe) and Crooked (Hillary). Had he been in charge of naming the Seven Dwarfs the story of Snow White might have turned out a little differently.

With Kamala Harris, chosen by Mr Biden to be his running-mate in the 2020 race for the White House, Mr Trump is still in the early stages of choosing. While so far he is going with “Phoney Kamala”, one can expect that to change because the Senator appears to be anything but a pretender. That is what should worry Mr Trump. If he wants to make the 2020 contest about authenticity then Mr Biden could not have picked a better candidate.

Ms Harris is the first black woman, and the first woman of Indian heritage, to appear on a presidential ticket. It is hardly her first “first”: she has broken so many glass ceilings in her career she probably owns a personalised sledgehammer.

As a former District Attorney and Attorney General she has almost as many years in public service as Mr Trump had in business. With Covid-19 continuing to cut a grisly swathe through America, his lack of experience in office, once seen as such a strength among his base, now looks like a terrible liability.

Her long career as a public servant is not her only virtue. The fact that she was a prosecutor may not have sat well with the left of her party who called her a “cop”, but it should go a long way in combatting any Trump campaign built on upholding law and order. Other positives? She should do better than Hillary Clinton in getting out the black vote, and her centrist tendencies ought to play well among women.

It is another of Ms Harris’s attributes, however, that Mr Trump should fear because it is one he shares, one that has done him a lot of good, that won him power and has assured he has kept it. Ms Harris, like the current President, is tough. When he was growing up, Trump’s father hammered home the idea that in business, in life, you had to be a “killer”. An opponent had to be ground down, shown no mercy. When they were at their weakest and most vulnerable you moved in for the kill.

Ms Harris may loathe the notion that she is in any way like Mr Trump, but having watched her during the Democratic primaries, she is fearless and ruthless if she thinks the occasion demands it.

When she attacked Mr Biden for praising two racist Senators of the past (a charge he vehemently denied), and on his opposition to bussing (Ms Harris was bussed to an integrated school), the hurt on his face was plain to see. He seemed surprised then shocked, as well he might be given Ms Harris and his late, much loved son, Beau, had been friends. She wasn’t part of the family but there was a strong connection there.

Her prosecutorial background has been similarly in evidence in the Senate.

Mr Trump said she had been “extraordinarily nasty” to his Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. She certainly brooked no nonsense and was always in command of her brief (another advantage she has over Mr Trump, whose addiction to winging it grows worse by the day).

Mr Trump is of course not running against Ms Harris, but in reality he is. The focus will fall on the pair of them because they make a better story. The strong woman against the tough guy. The Black Lives Matter supporter against the President who has done more to turn back the clock on race than any predecessor in living memory. The face of the new America, her, versus another old rich white guy who got his money from his daddy.

Initial reaction among supporters to Mr Biden’s pick began at toasty and moved quickly to ecstatic. Close to $10 million of donations arrived within three hours. There is serious money to be had from Republicans who want anyone but Trump in the White House.

Former President Obama said Ms Harris was “more than prepared” for the job of Vice-President. “She’s spent her career defending our constitution and fighting for folks who need a fair shake. This is a good day for our country. Now let’s go win this thing.”

A good day’s work, then, by Mr Biden and his team. But there is much that could yet go wrong for the Biden-Harris ticket. Just as the pair have their strengths, their combined weaknesses are only too obvious.

First, there is the age factor. Much as it should not matter, it does. Ms Harris, at 55, makes her running-mate look every day of his 77 years. Having spent the year in lockdown, Mr Biden seems far from battle ready. Mr Trump, though just four years younger than his Democrat opponent, has more fight in him.

On policy, Ms Harris seems to be a work in progress. During the primaries she struggled to get across exactly what she stood for. This tendency towards mixed messages, or worse, having no message at all, makes her vulnerable once the intense scrutiny begins. She is used to the spotlight, but the heat of a presidential campaign is something else. When Americans look at her they have to see a potential next President.

This is such a strange election year. From the outside, bar major events such as the Veep pick, it can seem as though there is no electoral race going on at all.

In this sphere of life, as in so many others, the pandemic has thrown convention out of the window. America, like the rest of the world, is worried about what else is coming down the line, including a second wave and a recession far worse than the 2007 crash.

The bickering of politicians may seem irrelevant to Americans in such circumstances, but it has never been more important that a fair, open fight for the presidency takes place. At a time when nothing is business as usual, politics has to do what it does best – unite a country behind a result and solve differences peacefully.

If Ms Harris can bring some life to the campaign, and help highlight what is at stake, she is most welcome to the fray.

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