(CNN)Commentators weigh in on Joe Biden's selection of Sen. Kamala Harris for his running mate. The views expressed in this commentary are their own.
Harris brings Biden a direct link to the party's African-American base, reflecting his team's strategy of generating excitement and high turnout in Black communities. Four years ago, the Democratic ticket lost Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania -- and with them, the White House -- by a scant 80,000 votes.
Harris also brings a connection to a politically potent, largely overlooked Indian-American community that has produced successful candidates throughout the nation. Bobby Jindal and Nikki Haley were both elected Republican governors of Louisiana and South Carolina, respectively, and the current mayors of Hoboken, New Jersey, Anaheim, California, San Antonio, Texas are all of Indian descent. If elected, Harris would be the most prominent and powerful representative of this community.
At a time when demands for racial justice and inclusion are surging, Harris can speak with experience and authority about balancing the need for change with the core requirement of maintaining public safety. Attacks from leftist activists on her record as a tough prosecutor will likely fall flat. Harris comes across in public as pleasant, earnest and fair: Trying to accuse her of being pro-incarceration will sound like nonsense to most voters.
She is fearsome in debate and comfortable on television, two skills that will come in handy in a race that will largely be fought on small screens rather than at huge outdoor rallies.
Errol Louis is the host of "Inside City Hall," a nightly political show on NY1, a New York all-news channel.
Frida Ghitis: A running mate to inspire even Republicans
Joe Biden made precisely the right choice with Sen. Kamala Harris, a passionate, eloquent, inspiring figure with the potential to do everything a presidential candidate needs from his running mate.
To make his decision Biden, the former vice president and soon-to-be Democratic nominee, had to contend with competing demands. Pick someone who could help him win the election through campaigning prowess, or someone who can help him govern and is ready to take over if needed? Someone who would energize progressive Democrats, or someone who could appeal to the party's centrists? Someone who would boost turnout among Democrats, or someone who can lure disaffected Republicans?
The choice was obvious. As if by magic, Harris manages to meet all those seemingly-conflicting qualifications.
She is a centrist, like Biden. They share an overall philosophy, which is the most important criterion for choosing a potential successor. But most left-of-center progressives, despite some inevitable complaints, will find her an irresistible choice. She is a woman of color, with roots in Africa, India, the Caribbean. Her mother was born in India, her father in Jamaica. That means she is an American through and through; like pretty much all of us the product of immigration.
She would become the first woman vice president and she also has a very good shot at becoming president, not only because of Biden's age, but because she is now the automatic choice for his successor.
Some will object to her track record as a tough public prosecutor. But that prosecutorial background deals a devastating blow to President Donald Trump's efforts to claim the Democrats are soft on crime.
Ignore the sexists. They already accused her of being "too ambitious." Feel free to laugh at that charge: What politician is not ambitious? What Senator is not ambitious? Name one person who has run for high office who did aspire to have an impact, even to change the world. How many in Congress have dreamed of the presidency?
Some thought Biden would rule her out because she hit him too hard during the presidential debates. But Biden was probably impressed. Kamala is a brilliant debater, a fighter. She can spar with the best of them. She delicately shredded Justice Brett Kavanaugh with her questioning during his confirmation hearings.
The debate with Vice President Mike Pence will be must-see TV. Democrats, as if they needed more motivation than getting rid of Trump, will rally behind her. And those Republicans questioning their party's choice -- except for the most sexist and racist among them -- will find it tempting to back Team Biden-Harris 2020.
Scott Jennings: The problem with choosing Kamala Harris
In my view, several primary rivals like Bernie Sanders outlasted her because their authenticity was perceived to be far greater. But winning the vote of one person - Joe Biden, in this case - was easier than winning the millions of votes necessary to be the nominee herself.
Harris was the safe choice for a campaign that is playing it safe. The Biden camp thinks it is sitting on a lead so it took the safest route - a basically vetted person who will neither help nor hurt the Democratic campaign.
Tara Setmayer: Biden-Harris is the best chance for disaffected conservatives
From the beginning of his campaign, Joe Biden has made it clear that we are in a fight for the soul of America. He needed to find a partner in that fight -- now he has California Sen. Kamala Harris.
Throughout his career, Biden's most trusted advisers have been smart, strong women, from his wife Dr. Jill Biden to his sister Valerie Biden Owens, who has played a central role in every campaign throughout her brother's political career.
It's clear the Trump campaign will use Harris's prosecutorial record and Biden's sponsorship of the infamous 1994 crime bill as wedge issues to depress the black vote in crucial swing states. Harris and Biden must be fully prepared to assuage any voter concerns those issues may cause. They can't afford to make the same mistakes Hillary Clinton's campaign made in 2016.
As the country continues to reel from the tragic impact of a deadly pandemic, economic distress and racial division, the American people now have a clear choice in this 2020 presidential election.
Unlike Trump, Biden is competent, compassionate and battle tested through tragedy. With Harris at his side as a happy warrior with a powerful personal story of her own, the contrast couldn't be any starker. Biden-Harris is everything Trump-Pence is not.
Despite the policy differences many of us disaffected conservatives may have, the Biden-Harris ticket presents the best prescription to defeat the existential threat Trump poses to our democratic norms, institutions and ideals come Nov. 3.
David Gergen: Picking Harris shows Biden's good judgment
But from my perspective, there is even more reason why Harris is a good choice: Among the women of color under consideration, she is clearly the most qualified to become President. In this election, that matters.
Of the country's 15 vice presidents since World War II, no less than 5 have eventually become president. That means that if history holds, a Vice President Harris would have a one-in-three chance to become a future President. The fact that Biden went for a running mate who could take over on day one reflects well on both his judgment and his respect for the office.
David Gergen has been a White House adviser to Presidents Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton, in addition to being a senior political analyst at CNN. A graduate of Harvard Law School, he is a professor of public service at the Harvard Kennedy School, where he founded the Center for Public Leadership.
Patti Solis Doyle: Kamala Harris will help change how we view and treat women in politics forever
When the race is over and history has been made, Joe Biden will need a partner. He chose Kamala Harris because of her skill, her judgment, and her experience as a legislator, a prosecutor and a politician. Harris' gender and her race are icing on a very formidable cake -- and, for a woman of color like me, it just might be the most delicious icing ever whipped up.
As the head of VP operations for the Barack Obama/Biden campaign in 2008, I got to watch Biden win, learn and excel at the vice presidential role. Here's the thing: No one knows more about what is needed in a vice president than Biden -- and no one knows more about the kind of support and trust a vice president deserves.
He wanted to be Obama's partner—to be the last voice in the room before then-President Obama made the most difficult decisions. That is the vice president he was, and that is what he wants in his own—a partner who can help him as he manages multiple crises on multiple fronts -- a global health crisis, an economic crisis, an education crisis and a climate crisis.
By selecting Harris, Biden has made history: the first Black and first Indian American woman on a national ticket. She is transformational, and she will energize the base. And, if they win,
she will help change how we view and how we treat women in politics forever.
Alice Stewart: A Biden-Harris ticket will not lure in independents
On paper, Joe Biden made a wise move in choosing California Sen. Kamala Harris as his vice president. Biden's former challenger brings diversity, youth and energy to the Democratic ticket.
As the first Black vice presidential nominee for a major party, Harris is also a historic pick and checks the female box that Biden promised back in March. On top of all that, Harris has the necessary leadership experience to step into the top job if needed, having served at the local, state and federal level in positions of power.
However, mark my words, while Democrats may be able to bury that hatchet, the Trump campaign will make sure the Biden-Harris divisions are front and center. Video of Harris attacking Biden for opposing forced busing as a means to integrating schools in the 1970s will play over and over and over -- until November. And President Donald Trump will continue to say, as he did just after the announcement, that Harris was "nasty" and "disrespectful" to Biden.
As for the historic nature of a Black running mate, I don't see that moving the needle. A majority of Black voters already support Democrats -- and likely would have with or without Harris on the ticket. It's the independent voters who matter, and it's unlikely these voters will be persuaded by a game of identity politics, especially when a Biden-Harris ticket is the most progressive presidential ticket in modern history. While independents are a mixed bag of political views, they will likely not embrace all the progressive policies that the Democrats are championing this election cycle.
So, while this week will be a high point in the Biden presidential campaign, when the confetti settles, reality will sink in. And independent voters, as well as much of mainstream America, will have a tough time supporting the Biden-Harris agenda.
Joe Lockhart: Good choice... but the election is still about Trump
Bottom line, Joe Biden hit a home run picking Kamala Harris as his running mate. She is smart, tough, a former prosecutor who can take it to Trump/Pence. All of those things matter, but her race makes this both a historic pick, as a Black woman who would be a heartbeat away from the Oval and as an affirmation of just how important Black voters and women are to Democrats in 2020.
This election is about one, and only one, person -- Donald Trump. His gross mismanagement of the Covid-19 pandemic and the economic carnage that has come as a result of his lack of leadership, makes this campaign a referendum on his presidency.
Harris is a great addition to the Biden team. But Biden/Harris will win in November because they offer hope that government can and will work for the people again -- and Trump will be relegated to the annals of the worst Presidents in our history.
Raul Reyes: The vice presidential debate between Harris and Pence will be epic
Harris is an outstanding pick for vice president for several reasons. She has been a presidential candidate, so she already has a high public profile. This matters because the presidential campaign will take place in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic -- meaning there will be few rallies, large events or opportunities for Harris to introduce herself to voters (the convention may well be largely virtual).
Her experience as a candidate for the nomination means that she has been through the press vetting and scrutiny that come with being in the national spotlight. Plus, Harris being on the ticket will energize key Democratic constituencies in battleground states. She can be expected to help drive turnout in African American voters, particularly African American women.
That Harris comes from California is important, as this state is a microcosm of the 21st century United States. She knows how to connect to and support communities of color.
Jen Psaki: The only reaction Democrats should have to Harris
The only reaction Democrats should have to Joe Biden picking Kamala Harris for his running mate is a warm embrace of his new running mate. Harris is not only a historic pick, as the first Black and Asian American woman to be on a national ticket for either party, but she is young, tough as nails (just ask Attorney General Bill Barr, or Biden for that matter) and prepared to do the job on day one.
Typically, there are only three big moments during a campaign when this choice matters. First, the day it is announced. The Biden team deserves high praise for rolling out the choice without leaks, inaccurate reporting and on a timeline that worked for them.
In addition to the element of surprise, they will have another chance with the official announcement on Wednesday, when Biden and Harris will appear together to announce their candidacy. Then, it will likely dominate news coverage for the next 48-hours, which is a great boost for them considering how hard it is to break through the President Donald Trump show.
The second moment is the Democratic National Convention next week. Harris' speech will be her chance to re-introduce herself to a national audience. We will hear about her biography, and hopefully we will hear more about her career as a prosecutor. Her law enforcement record has been picked apart, and that will continue, but she has a high-profile opportunity to talk about her record from a position of strength, describing how her experiences have impacted her positions today.
The third moment is the vice presidential debate in October. Vice President Mike Pence won't even dine alone with a woman. Now the most important night of his year will be spent debating one.
My bet is Harris will have more moments than the traditional three. But beyond 2020, Biden's pick also tells us something about the future of the Democratic Party. A Black woman is now the safe pick for running mate.
Julian Zelizer: Biden's Harris pick should worry Trump
Joe Biden made an extremely strong pick. In this case, the safe choice is a bold choice. This selection will light up the ticket.
Senator Kamala Harris offers an important mix: she is a candidate with a track record showing she can govern and a skillful campaigner. During the Democratic primaries, the former prosecutor showed she can deliver a tough verbal punch.
She also has extensive experience as a public servant in California and Washington. Biden knows the importance of a running mate who would be able to help him lead in Washington after the responsibilities that he himself was given under the Obama administration. And if there are concerns about whether the vice president would be able to step into the role of president should that be necessary—Senator Harris will allay them.
Through this choice, Biden sends the message that his administration would be committed to serious governance—a stark contrast with the chaos that has been on display every day in the Oval Office under President Donald Trump.
The selection of a Black woman will offer more evidence to voters that Democrats aim to be a party that represents the pluralistic and diverse character of our nation in 2020 rather than some reactionary throwback to the nineteenth century. She will help Biden ensure that turnout is as strong as possible in every segment of the Democratic electorate.
But she has the opportunity to turn this to her advantage if she demonstrates a genuine commitment to changing the way the nation polices and imprisons. She can deliver this message as someone who has been "tough on crime" and understands the legal process better than most. Like Biden, she will be difficult to pin as part of the radical left—although the GOP will certainly try to do so.
Harris is also very good on television and social media, and this matters a great deal. During the pandemic campaign, Biden will need help selling his message on camera—one area where he doesn't shine as much as he does when he's out on the campaign trail. Most observers agree that Harris "pops" on the screen. Americans saw this not only during the debates, but also during Senate hearings, when she has delivered razor-sharp questions.
After dropping out of the primaries, Harris tweeted "Don't worry, Mr. President, I'll see you at your trial." While she was referring to Donald Trump's impeachment, the real trial will take place in November -- and now the senator will have the chance to deliver on her promise.
No vice-presidential candidate is perfect. Over the next few weeks, some of her weaknesses and flaws inevitably will be exposed as she faces the glare of the media once again. But the Trump campaign should be very worried. In one of his most important decisions of the campaign, Biden has made a strong choice that will greatly improve his chances of defeating President Trump.