SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — How did Joe Biden choose Sen. Kamala Harris as his running mate? It may have been because of an eleventh-hour meeting between the Biden campaign and Harris’s supporters in California.
“We did, we went rogue,” said California Lt. Governor Eleni Kounalakis.
Kounalakis called for a conference call with “Team Biden” on behalf of her friend, Sen. Kamala Harris.
“I put in a call to Team Biden, and I said we’d like to talk to you and tell you our personal story,” she said.
The call was made up of 15 people. It was a group made up of the senator’s staunchest allies in the state, including the mayors of Long Beach and San Francisco, business and union leaders.
“We really felt we had to set the record straight about who Kamala is, and how much support she had in California,” said Kounalakis.
It was a quick turn around. Kounalakis got the “okay,” and 72 hours later, they were face-to-face with the presumed Democratic presidential nominee.
“Everyone took two minutes to say something about her, and why they felt like she was the right choice,” said Kounalakis.
When Kamala Harris emerged in the spring as a favorite for Biden’s vice presidential candidate, Kounalakis say Harris told her supporters there would be no lobbying to try to influence the campaign.
“What she said is, ‘I respect him, he knows who I am, he knows I’m here, and he knows I would be honored to serve,'” said Kounalakis.
They listened for a while, until about two weeks ago when Kounalakis wanted there to be no doubt in Biden’s team that Harris could lead.
“I will say I may have been one of those more intense people, I really wanted to see her on the ticket,” she said.
The call was only 45 minutes, but it was something Kounalakis says she’s proud of and thinks it may have made a difference in Biden choosing Harris.
“I have to believe it did,” she said. “Simply because I was on this call and it was incredibly impressive.”
Political Expert Gary Dietrich says it’s likely that no other vice presidential candidate was granted that same meeting.
“This is an 11th hour, make sure you save the Harris vice president-candidacy call,” he said.
He says it shows Sen. Harris could be a fierce competitor on the national stage.
“In their view, they wanted to make sure that the former vice president knew that the potential vice president could survive a rigorous campaign,” he said.
Kounalakis is reportedly on the short list to replace Harris in the Senate if Biden wins in November.