VP talk could intensify with Harris fundraising moves

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Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., speaks at a campaign rally for Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden at Renaissance High School in Detroit, Monday, March 9, 2020. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

California Sen. Kamala Harris made two notable fundraising moves Wednesday that are sure to fuel speculation about her prospects to be Joe Biden's running mate on the Democratic presidential ticket.

Harris, who dropped out of the White House race in December, set up a joint fundraising operation with the Democratic National Committee, an arrangement that is typically reserved for nominees trying to attract large donations from the party’s biggest boosters. Hours later, she made a surprise appearance on a virtual fundraiser, introducing Biden to donors.

Harris, 55, will host her own virtual fundraiser Thursday. The deal allows contributors to give a maximum of $357,800, with $2,800 going to retire Harris’ presidential campaign debts and the rest going to the national party.

The senator and the DNC filed paperwork for the arrangement Wednesday with the Federal Election Commission, in the first joint fundraising agreement of its kind for Democrats this election cycle. Biden and the party chairman, Tom Perez, had been hesitant to enter into such an arrangement while Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders was still actively campaigning against Biden. But Sanders suspended his campaign Wednesday, making Biden the presumptive nominee.

Party officials did not say whether they have asked other former candidates for a similar fundraising arrangement, but that could become moot now that Biden no longer must navigate Sanders as a rival. Regardless, it's a testament to Harris' good standing among some of the party's top donors.

In her Biden fundraising cameo Wednesday afternoon, Harris appeared on video from Washington, blasting Trump as a “complete failure” and, in an effusive introduction, asserting that Biden would be the right president at a time when people “need to have hope ... need to have faith.” The former vice president responded in kind, praising Harris for running a “helluva race” and reminding attendees that “we go back a long way,” a reference to Harris’ friendship with Biden’s late son, Beau. Harris was California's attorney general the same time that Beau Biden held the post in Delaware.

Seemingly teasing the running mate chatter, Biden added: “I’m so lucky to have you be a part of this partnership going forward. Working together, we can make a great deal of progress. ... I’m coming for you, kid.”

Harris endorsed Biden last month after Elizabeth Warren, the last of her female colleagues from the Senate, had dropped out of the race.