5 takeaways from Joe Biden's and Kamala Harris' 1st joint interviews

The Democratic ticket sat down with ABC's David Muir and Robin Roberts.

August 24, 2020, 12:23 PM

With the 2020 presidential election just over two months away, former Vice President Joe Biden sat down with "World News Tonight" anchor David Muir and "Good Morning America" co-anchor Robin Roberts for their first joint interview since officially becoming their party’s presidential and vice presidential nominees.

The wide-ranging interview touched on a number of pressing issues -- from their previous confrontation on the debate stage to what the candidates are doing to prepare for their upcoming debates with President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence.

Here are five takeaways from “The Ticket: The First Interview," which aired Sunday during a special edition of "20/20" on ABC.

Biden on his vice presidential pick: ‘It was easy for me’

After a months-long search, Biden told Roberts “it was easy” for him to choose Harris.

“I mean she had the best recommendation she can get: my son Beau, not a joke,” Biden said of Harris, who, as attorney general of California, worked closely with Biden’s son, who died of an aggressive form of brain cancer in 2015.

The choice of Harris was historic: the California senator is the first Black woman and Asian American to join a presidential ticket. Protests over racial inequities in the country also led to calls for Biden to choose a woman of color.

While Biden said he didn’t feel pressure to choose a woman of color, he acknowledged that Harris will bring a different perspective to the table.

"Good Morning America" co-anchor Robin Roberts conducts a joint interview with Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and his running mate Sen. Kamala Harris, Aug. 21, 2020.
ABC News

“I cannot understand and fully appreciate what it means to walk in her shoes, to be an African American woman, with Indian-American background, a child of immigrants. She can’t assume exactly what it's like to walk in my shoes. What we do know is we have the same value set,” Biden told Roberts.

Harris also praised his “audacious” decision to add a woman of color to the ticket.

“Those are the kinds of things he does and he doesn't seek permission to do it. He doesn't look to whether or not it’s popular. He said, I'm going to select a woman, and then he selected a woman of color. Right? It says a lot,” Harris said of Biden.

Biden, Harris confront their controversies amid national reckoning on race

The former vice president has continued to face questions about his agenda for the African-American community and his at-times controversial rhetoric on the topic of race.

“I shouldn't have said it,” Biden told Roberts, referring to comments he made during a May interview on “The Breakfast Club” radio show, where he quipped that “you ain’t Black,” a reference to Black Americans who are still deciding on their presidential pick. “But, the truth is, there's a fundamental difference between Donald Trump and me on the issue of race across the board.”

Harris, who largely stayed quiet after Biden’s comments on race drew backlash, backed her running mate, touting his policy plan for Black America and attempting to paint him as a candidate who understands the issues facing the Black community.

“He has been outspoken on those issues and continues to talk about disparities and I know where his heart is. I know where his heart is,” Harris said.

The senator confronted her own controversial past as a prosecutor and credited the Black Lives Matter movement for the shift in national attitudes on policing and race.

Former Vice President Joe Biden participates in his first his first joint interview with his running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris, in Wilmington, Del., on Aug 21, 2020.
ABC News

“I give full credit to the brilliance of that movement in terms of what it has done to advance a conversation that needed to happen, a long time ago, but did not capture the ears or the hearts of the American people. What Black Lives Matter has done as a movement has been to be a counter force against a very entrenched status quo around the criminal justice system in America,” Harris said.

Biden says he could 'absolutely' consider serving serve 8 years if elected president

Biden also reacted to repeated attacks from President Trump questioning his mental fitness to serve as president.

“His campaign has called you ‘diminished.’ And, I'm curious how you’d respond to that,” Muir said, pressing Biden Trump’s repeated attacks.

“Watch me. Mr. President, watch me. Look at us both. Look at us both, what we say, what we do, what we control, what we know, what kind of shape we're in,” Biden said.

“I think it's a legitimate question to ask anybody over 70 years old whether or not they're fit and whether they're ready. But I just, only thing I can say to the American people, it's a legitimate question to ask anybody. Watch me,” Biden told Muir.

Biden would be 78 on Inauguration Day -- the oldest president ever elected if successful in November. Biden has called himself a transition candidate, but when Muir pressed him on what that meant, Biden said it did not mean a one-term president.

“We haven’t spent nearly enough time building the bench in the Democratic Party,” Biden said.

“[What] I want to do is make sure when this is over, we have a new Senate, we won back statehouses, we’re in a position where we transition to a period of bringing people up to the visibility that they need to get to be able to lead nationally. And that's about raising people up. And that's what I'm about.”

“So you're leaving open the possibility you'll serve eight years if elected?” Muir pressed.

“Absolutely,” Biden replied.

Biden, Harris looking forward to debates, say preps are underway

The first presidential debate is now nearly one month away, and both Biden and Harris made it clear they are eager to confront their Republican counterparts.

“The president said he's already prepping for the debates. Are you?” Muir asked Biden.

“So am I. I can hardly wait,” Biden responded with a wide grin.

Sen. Kamala Harris participates in her first joint interview with her running mate, former Vice President Joe Biden, in Wilmington, Del., on Aug 21, 2020.
ABC News

Harris, too, laughed off comments from Vice President Mike Pence last week that he is looking forward to the one vice presidential debate “more than anyone could imagine.”

“Oh, I’m looking forward to seeing him. Yes, absolutely,” Harris chuckled.

While the impact of presidential debates on the outcome of the race is uncertain, the debates give voters a chance to compare the tickets side-by-side.

Biden says his campaign will win campaign from home: 'We’re gonna follow the science'

As COVID-19 continues to impact the country, its impacts continue to be felt on the campaign trail as well, with Biden conducting a campaign--for the most part--virtually, despite the president hitting the trail.

“We saw the president just this week, during the convention, he traveled to Pennsylvania. He traveled to Wisconsin, Iowa, Arizona, all of that while you were making your case to the American people. I understand the restrictions of COVID and campaigning in this time. But can you win a presidential election from home?” Muir asked Biden.

“We will,” Biden said. “We're gonna follow the science, what the scientists tell us. We've been able to travel places when we've been able to do it in a way that we don't cause the congregation of large numbers of people.”

With just over 70 days until Election Day, Biden was critical of Trump’s campaigning, arguing the president’s events, and the crowds they draw, put people’s lives in danger.

“Look what happens when -- with what's happened with his, his events -- people die. People get together. They don't wear masks. They end up getting COVID. They end up dying,” Biden said.

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