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Kamala Harris' husband Doug Emhoff on what it's like to be a potential vice president's spouse

"She just works hard, and she's relentless... It's just incredible how much she does," Emhoff said of his wife.

Kamala Harris' husband Doug Emhoff on what it's like to be a potential vice president's spouse
Cover Image Source: Democratic vice presidential nominee U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) and her husband Douglas Emhoff on August 19, 2020, in Wilmington, Delaware. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Doug Emhoff doesn't fit the bill as a stereotypical political spouse. Presented by the Biden-Harris campaign as a modern, progressive man for our modern, progressive era, vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris' husband refers to himself as just a "guy." A guy who simply dropped into the political scene when Harris's longtime friend Chrisette Hudlin played matchmaker and set them up on a date. A guy who witnessed both the highs and lows of the game over their six years of marriage as his wife won a Senate seat, dropped out of the 2020 presidential race, and was named Joe Biden's running mate.


"She made that decision, and I would have supported whatever she decided," Emhoff told Marie Claire of Harris' withdrawal from the presidential race. "But I’m not her political adviser. I’m her husband. And so my role was to be there for her, to love her, to have her back, to talk it through, to help her." In August, he announced his decision to take a leave of absence from his position as a partner at DLA Piper—one of the largest law firms in the world =—to devote his time and efforts towards helping Harris become the next vice president of the United States. 


"Imagine working from home with Kamala Harris, during a pandemic and all the other issues going on," he said. "She just works hard, and she's relentless... It's just incredible how much she does. And I’m looking over and she’s looking [back] and she goes, 'What are you doing, Dougie? You working?' And I say, 'Yep! Yes, honey.'" The experience, he says, has "really elevated my game." Emhoff, who is White and Jewish, credits his wife for helping him recognize his privilege and see into his blind spots. "She'll say, 'You realize that wouldn't have happened if you weren't a white dude?'" he revealed.


"I always viewed myself as progressive and open-minded," Emhoff continued, admitting that there's a lot more he notices now that he didn't acknowledge before. "It's great to be with her because she has such a great perspective and she's certainly not shy about expressing [it]." Although many have praised him for putting his career on hold to abet his wife's, Emhoff doesn't think it's such a big deal. "Our relationship and the way I roll, my whole life has just been to support the people I love unequivocally, and they support me," he said. "The whole thing has been based on parity and mutual respect."


"I love that America is getting to know my Doug, and they're seeing who he really is through this campaign," Harris said of her husband in a statement. "It's so clear in everything he does: He is someone who loves his family, loves our country, and is incredibly supportive of those around him." Jill Biden, who has personal experience as the spouse of a vice president, has a great deal of confidence in her current campaign-trail buddy. "Not a lot of people know what it’s like to be on the other side of this as a candidate’s spouse. It’s not a role you seek out—but it’s an incredible honor and a powerful platform. I promised myself I wouldn’t waste it, and I know Doug won’t either. I can’t wait to see the great things he does as our first second gentleman," she said of Emhoff.


As for what he'd do with a job that is largely ceremonial and holds no constitutional power, the 55-year-old lawyer said: "There’s a formal role of the VP spouse. I think that’s all working and that’s not something I’d be trying to upend." He plans to use the platform to "talk about fairness and talk about justice and talk about equality. Just try to lead by example." Harris agreed, saying: "If Joe and I are elected, [Doug] would be a champion for issues of justice, opportunity, and equality, and a partner in all our work for the American people."

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