Former Pa. Gov. Rendell applauds VP pick, says Harris is ‘exactly what we want’

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Presidential candidate Joe Biden has picked Sen. Kamala Harris as his running mate. She has made history as the first Black woman to join a major party's ticket.

Former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell is thrilled with Biden’s choice.

“It's not only a great pick, but it shows the American people something about Joe Biden,” Rendell said Wednesday morning with KYW Newsradio Morning Drive anchor Carol MacKenzie. “Biden would pick someone who gave him the roughest going-over during the campaign because he believed she was the best person to fill that job. Shows a lot about Joe Biden’s character.”

Rendell noted Harris has some vulnerabilities, as all former prosecutors would have. “Prosecutors, by the nature of the job, sometimes make decisions that seem to point to the justice system not being fair,” he said. “But in those individual cases, the decisions are the right decisions to make.”

Harris previously served as the attorney general of California and district attorney in San Francisco. 

“She spoke about her record as a DA and an attorney general, which was excellent overall,” he continued. “When you’re DA and you’re attorney general, you bring one perspective to the job. When you’re a senator or a vice president, you bring another perspective.”

Rendell had previously pushed for Sen. Amy Klobuchar to be Biden’s running mate. Speaking on CNN last month, Rendell said, in part, that “Kamala can rub some people the wrong way. … The No. 1 rule for picking the VP: Do no harm.”

On Wednesday, the former governor countered: “Look, in politics, if everybody likes you, you're not doing your job. And Kamala Harris does what she believes is right, consequences be damned. And that's what you want.”

Rendell, a longtime supporter and friend of Biden, said it’s important for a president to be challenged when he or she is wrong. He said that’s where President Donald Trump is lacking.

“They're scared ’cause he doesn't take criticism, he doesn't take advice, he doesn't take people saying ‘you're wrong,’ ” Rendell quipped. “Kamala Harris, on behalf of the American people, will tell Joe Biden any time she thinks that he's not going in the right direction. I have no doubt about that. And that's exactly what we want.”

During the Democratic debates, Harris charged at Biden hard, especially on the issue of race. Rendell defended Biden, adding he’s confident Biden asked for Harris’ honest opinion on the matter and, again, asked her to tell him when he’s wrong.

In some situations, a president’s call may be final, but Rendell said Harris will “give Joe Biden exactly what he wants: that negative voice. … And boy, that's something you need in leadership, because none of us, absolutely none of us, are always right.”

Trump criticized Harris shortly after Tuesday’s announcement, calling her a “phony.”

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 11, 2020

During a White House news conference Tuesday, Trump referred back to Harris during the Brett Kavanaugh hearings: “I thought she was the meanest, the most horrible, most disrespectful of anybody in the U.S. Senate.”

Hours after those comments, Harris tweeted, “Trump thinks this country belongs to him. But Joe Biden knows it belongs to all of us.”

As for the Democratic National Convention slated for next week, Rendell anticipates it being a bit “punchier” than normal — as normal as it can be amid a pandemic — with “a good mix between elected officials and people from all walks of life.”

Still, the pandemic is a hindrance to both campaigns. He said Harris is “dynamic” and “charismatic” and should be out among the voters. And, Trump’s greatest strength is speaking to his supporters at his large campaign rallies.

“It's gonna require a more nuanced approach … because it's one thing to talk to a room of 20,000 of your best fans. It's another thing to talk to (an) audience, which may have some undecided people there.

“It'll be interesting to see.”

Biden and Harris are expected to make their first public appearance in Wilmington, Delaware on Wednesday.


KYW Newsradio’s Carol MacKenzie, Tim Jimenez and Rachel Kurland contributed to this report.