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Former Senator On Why Kamala Harris Might Be Right VP Pick


Many Americans got to know Harris when she ran for president earlier in this political cycle. Our next guest got to know her as a colleague - former Sen. Claire McCaskill.

Sen. McCaskill, good to speak to you.

CLAIRE MCCASKILL: Nice to be with you.

KELLY: Now, you two overlapped in the Senate for a couple of years. What is your reaction? Do you think she is the right pick for your party right now?

MCCASKILL: Absolutely. This is somebody who came to the Senate with a great deal of experience as someone who started out as a courtroom assistant prosecutor, worked her way up to the boss in that office and then attorney general of California, where she ran a huge legal office with thousands of lawyers. So when she came to the Senate, she was ready to get to work and made a very good impression on all of us for her preparedness. And most importantly, she can take it to a witness. I can't wait to watch the debate with her and Mike Pence. He will not have a good night.

KELLY: Speaking of debates, probably her most senator - her most memorable moment on the campaign trail was actually attacking Joe Biden. She went after him for his record on race and school integration. Are you confident that these two can work together and do it in a way that they unify the party?

MCCASKILL: You know, I think it says a lot about Joe Biden that he selected someone who wasn't afraid to challenge him. That is not the kind of president we have now. Joe Biden clearly saw her skill, her ability. They connected, I think, on a personal level because she had been friends with his son when he had been attorney general of Delaware. So I do think there is something to be said for a man who is strong enough to pick as a running mate someone who is not afraid to challenge him. And that, I think, is the kind of president we need right now, instead of somebody who surrounds himself with everyone who says exactly what he wants to hear.

KELLY: You know, one big question all along has been, what would happen to Bernie Sanders supporters, to Elizabeth Warren supporters, to the progressive wing of your party? Where are those voters left today?

MCCASKILL: I think our party is very unified. I think that the fact that we have the first African American woman to ever be on the ticket says a lot about where our party is. I think that while there were differences within the primary, we are united around one important concept, and that is we need to remove Donald Trump from the Oval Office. So while there may be some friction and some differences of opinion on some things, this is a strong progressive ticket that supports the values of our party. And I think ultimately, we're not going to have the kind of problems with - that you might have seen during the primary as we move into the general election.

KELLY: So is there anything about this pick that gives you pause?

MCCASKILL: There really isn't. I think there was - he - Joe Biden was blessed by a field of very qualified women. I think he picked one of the best that he could have picked among the group, and she is ready for the bright lights of a presidential campaign. And if you haven't been around it, I don't think you can really appreciate what that preparation is, and Joe Biden knew that. He was running for president when he was selected as vice president. So he knows that that experience made him a stronger candidate. I think the same thing will apply to Kamala Harris. I think the Biden-Harris ticket is in a commanding position moving into November.

KELLY: That is former Sen. Claire McCaskill, Democrat from Missouri.

Thanks so much for joining us.

MCCASKILL: Thank you.

(SOUNDBITE OF LITTLE DRAGON SONG, "RITUAL UNION") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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