Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden raised $3.5 million Tuesday night in a virtual fundraiser hosted by former primary rival Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., one of the most talked-about contenders to be the former vice president’s running mate.
The event, which was also co-hosted by California Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis, was a virtual call with about 1,400 people joining. Biden and Harris addressed George Floyd’s funeral and racism in America, as well as the controversial clearing of protesters from Lafayette Square in Washington, D.C., last week.
While Biden didn’t address vice presidential speculation – he and his campaign have appeared content to wait well into the summer before naming a running mate – Biden did generously praise Harris.
“She’s been a fighter and a principled leader and I know because I’ve seen her up close, and I’ve seen her in the trenches,” Biden said of the senator.
On the state of race relations in America, Biden said that continuing to make progress would require work by the American people.
“American history is not a fairy tale with a guaranteed ending, a happy ending,” he said. “This is a battle for the soul of the country. It’s been a constant tug of war between the American ideal that we all are created equal — and the harsh reality that racism has long torn us apart. But history teaches us that in our darkest moments of despair were made some of our greatest progress.”
Harris added: “One can think of this moment as an inflection moment, and it will require bold action and it will require immediate action.”
She also lauded Biden as someone who “truly does believe in the ideals of our country” but is also “a pragmatist and is a realist.”
The senator compared that characterization of Biden to the current occupant of the White House, saying President Trump “had the gall to dispatch the U.S. military to clear the streets so he could prance down and then like a prop hold up the Bible for a photo op.”
Attorney General William Barr, however, has said the claim Harris made – that the military cleared protesters from Lafayette Square last week to allow for a presidential photo op – is incorrect.
“On Monday, we were reacting to three days of extremely violent demonstrations right across from the White House,” Barr told Fox News’ Bret Baier. “[We had] a lot of injuries to the police officers, arson — things were so bad the Secret Service recommended the president go down to the [White House] bunker and we can’t have that in our country. So the decision was made: We had to move the perimeter one block and that is what we were doing.”
Barr claimed he had no advance warning that Trump would leave the White House grounds on the evening of June 1 to visit the church.
Harris further warned supporters that the general election would be a challenge, and said the president will try to use “division” to win in November.
“This campaign, this election is going to be rough and it’s going to be rough and tumble,” she said. “And there are very powerful forces that thrive off of the hate and division that Donald Trump has been sowing. This is not going to be easy. And we have about just a few months to get this thing done.”
Fox News’ Charles Creitz contributed to this report.