For months, as Joe Biden has been mulling over his potential vice-presidential picks, he’s stuck with a line that’s kept many political watchers guessing.
Pointing to the close relationship he forged as Barack Obama’s vice-president, he repeatedly stressed the importance of choosing someone “simpatico with me”.
“Both in terms of personality as well as substance,” he added.
Biden wanted someone with whom he had chemistry. Someone he could trust.
In other words, he wanted to find his own Biden.
So, the choice of California senator Kamala Harris is noteworthy for the fact that no other candidate for the nomination was more forceful in their attacks on Biden during the primary contest.
During a Democratic candidate debate in June last year, when Harris was still in the race for the top job, she went for the jugular on the issue of race.
She described as “very hurtful” Biden’s warm words about segregationist senators.
And she also went after his record on ‘bussing,’ a policy aimed at better integrating America’s public schools.
It wasn’t forgotten. Almost a year later, Biden’s wife Jill described it as “a punch to the gut”.
Harris’s killer debate instincts will be an advantage for team Biden
As a district attorney in San Francisco and then attorney-general in California, Harris wasn’t known for pulling her punches.
As a senator, her grilling of Trump administration appointees — from Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh to former attorney-general Jeff Sessions — was legendary.
They propelled her to the national stage and launched her — ultimately unsuccessful — tilt at the presidential nomination.
“She was extraordinarily nasty to Kavanagh,” President Donald Trump said after the announcement before going on to compare her to senator Elizabeth Warren.
“She was probably nastier than even ‘Pocahontas’ to Joe Biden. She was very disrespectful.”
But Harris has already pointed out that she made the comments about Biden during a debate, where candidates are there for the sole purpose of tough verbal contest.
That said, a good deal of water must have gone under the Biden-Harris bridge since the debate last year for them to have restored the “chemistry” Biden talked about.
Now on the same team, they can turn Harris’s killer instincts on the debate stage to their advantage.
There are a number of ways she will help balance the ticket
Biden has many positive traits, but debating isn’t one of them. He often flubs his lines and is prone to rambling.
There’s been a deal of consternation amid the Biden camp about his ability to face off against Trump in the three debates scheduled in the run-up to the November 3 election.
Team Trump will be looking for an opportunity to hopefully reset in what is currently looking like a disastrous electoral contest for the President.
Having Harris on team Biden will go some way in helping to balance the ledger when she goes up against the less dynamic Vice-President Mike Pence.
But that shouldn’t be overstated. After all it’s a race for president, not vice-president.
Much more significant is the balance that Harris provides for Biden on the ticket more broadly.
At 55, she offers generational balance against a nominee who’ll turn 78 in November.
Harris also balances the gender divide, in a race where suburban women are reportedly peeling away from their previous support for Trump.
She’s the daughter of migrants from India and Jamaica, in a race that will no doubt feature a good deal of xenophobia.
And crucially, she’s a woman of colour, the first in American history to be placed on the presidential ticket by a major party.
Several open letters earlier this week from high-profile members of the black community, laid out in clear terms the electoral consequences for Biden if he’d chosen a white woman as his running mate.
The African-American vote sealed the nomination for Biden in the primary contest this year.
But it’s a demographic that failed to show up in 2016, when Hillary Clinton ran alongside Senator Tim Kaine.
Both Biden and Harris could face some scrutiny
This brings us to the major imbalance on the Biden-Harris ticket: they’re both moderates.
Both have been criticised for their roles in setting up the system of justice that Black Lives Matter protesters are trying to overthrow.
As a senator in 1994, Biden authored a “tough on crime” law that became one of the key contributors to the mass incarceration of African Americans.
As California attorney-general, Harris opposed the legalisation of marijuana and didn’t back independent investigations of cases where police officers killed people.
In her 2009 book, Smart on Crime, she pushed for more police on the streets, not fewer, writing “virtually all law-abiding citizens feel safer when they see officers walking a beat”.
This year, she’s campaigned fiercely for black justice, hoping for a ban on chokeholds, racial profiling and the type of “no-knock” warrants that resulted in the death of Breonna Taylor during a drug-raid gone wrong.
But as the Black Lives Matter protests continue to reverberate through America’s streets, there will be more than a few who’ll see both Harris and Biden as architects of the very system they’re trying to overthrow.
It doesn’t mean they’ll vote for Trump, but they may not turn out at all.
Biden and his team have no doubt factored this into their calculations and decided it’s not enough of a danger to worry about.
Choosing a more left-leaning running mate may have seen Biden’s moderate supporters desert him in droves.
Harris has been heavily vetted by Biden’s team over the past few months, and by the public more broadly during her own campaign for the nomination, without disqualification.
In an election many see as having the highest stakes in living memory, she’s emerged as Biden’s safest bet.