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Kamala Harris and Douglas Emhoff on breaking new ground

CBSNews
·6 min read
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Part 2 of "Sunday Morning" anchor Jane Pauley's two-part interview with the vice president-elect:

And how may we address him? "You can call me Doug."

But of course he isn't just "Doug." Douglas Emhoff will be making history as the first husband of a U.S. vice president.

"First gentleman?" asked CBS News' Jane Pauley.

"Second gentleman!" said Emhoff. "First second gentleman."

"I'm afraid for the next week or month or year of your life, you're going to be doing something like you just had to do with me."

"Yeah, it's all good," he said.

Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris said, "There was a whole conversation, mostly among his friends, whether he should just be called the 'first dude'!"

"And other names that I can't repeat on national television," Emhoff added.

The two met in 2013, a blind date set up by a friend of hers.

Pauley asked, "When you first got the friend who said, 'There's a guy…' (and maybe your friends were doing this to you all the time) 'There's a guy, and he's a good one. And don't Google him.' You totally Googled him, didn't you?"

"Ooh. This is a reveal!" Emhoff smiled.

"I've never been asked that. I did!" Harris laughed. "Oh, that's so funny you asked me that question. So, yes, my best friend set us up on a blind date. And she said, 'Just trust me. Just trust me. Just don't …' You know, she wanted me to just kind of go into it, and she said, 'Don't Google him.' I did!"

Douglas Emhoff and Kamala Harris married in 2018.  / Credit: CBS News
Douglas Emhoff and Kamala Harris married in 2018. / Credit: CBS News

She found he was a Los Angeles lawyer. Of course, he knew she was California Attorney General.

He made the first move. "One of my buddies was in town, and we went to a Laker game. And so, you know, we [had] a couple of beers, I told him the story. I said, 'What do you think I should text her?' So, we sat there in the stands and we came up with this text, which was something like, 'Hey, it's Doug. Awkward! I'm texting you.'"

Harris asked, "You guys composed it together?"

"We did. So, that's my reveal! And she, which is funny, she said something like, 'Yay, Lakers. Go Lakers.'"

"And I'm a Warriors fan."

"Biggest Warriors fan out there," he laughed.

The next morning, early, he called: "So, I left this ridiculous voicemail, which she has saved and plays back to me on our anniversary every year. I thought I'd never hear from her again, but ..."

"But it was just, it was adorable," she laughed. "And it was just, I mean, the thing about Doug is that he is exactly who he is. He's just fully authentic and clear about the things he cares about. And it's family, it's his work …"

"You," he added.

"And me!" she smiled.

They married in 2014, her first. He was by her side as she was elected to the U.S. Senate, where he found out what it's like to be a "+1" to a powerful politician.

"There were Senate spouses who welcomed me," he said. "And I went to some, you know, lunches and events."

"And plenty of misters?" asked Pauley.

"Amy Klobuchar's husband, Elizabeth Warren's husband, who kinda put their, you know, arms around me to show me the ropes."

Harris said, "There're very few husbands that are Senate spouses. They do find each other."

Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris and her husband, Douglas Emhoff. / Credit: CBS News
Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris and her husband, Douglas Emhoff. / Credit: CBS News

Emhoff plans to teach law classes at Georgetown University, much like the incoming first lady, Jill Biden, who plans to continue as a community college professor.

Pauley said to Emhoff, "You strike me as a very centered person. And a calming presence."

"Thank you. I understand the role she's taking, and the role that Joe and Jill are taking on, too, and become very close with them. So, like I support her, I support them. And that's important, 'cause what they're doing is so much. And they're walking into so many different crises. The American people hired them for change and to get us outta these things. And I'm gonna do everything I can to help them."

And to relieve the stress of the Washington pressure-cooker, the couple hopes to keep cooking. They are, Harris confirmed, both kitchen people.

"You cook?" Pauley asked.

"Well, he has learned," Harris said. "He's a good sous chef."

"Now, outta necessity during COVID," he added.

"How much cooking will there be in your life to come?" Pauley asked.

"Well, I am charting that course and making sure that at least for Sunday family dinner," said Harris. "It's too much a part of our family life. And that's important to me, to keep that stability.

And we had to ask about that fashion choice, surely a "first" for a vice president: The Converse Chuck Taylor sneakers, a.k.a. Chucks.

Pauley said, "I gotta tell you, when you walked in, I checked out, Is she wearin' 'em? You're not wearin' your Chucks today!"

"No."

"What is the story?"

"It became a story. I've always worn Chucks!" she laughed. "It's my casual go-to. You know, grew up with Chucks. I just love them. They're comfortable."

"I can attest. There [are] several closets full of them," Emhoff laughed.

"He's exaggerating!"

"But, this wasn't just some thing that she started doing on the campaign. When I met her, it was Chucks and jeans when she met the kids."

"What did it say to you?" Pauley asked.

"She's down-to-earth. People ask me all the time, like, 'What's she really like?' I said, she's shockingly normal. And I think that is really an extension of who she really is."

Harris and Emhoff have blended their families together, including children Ella and Cole from his first marriage. Their Sunday evening Zoom calls are a striking picture of diversity:

Harris said, "We have family in Italy. My sister-in-law married an Italian, so they live there with their two children. India, we have an aunt and an uncle there. Canada. Brooklyn! Oakland."

Emhoff added, "My parents, they live in the desert out in California.

And for the next four years, add the U.S. Naval Observatory in Washington to the list, which will be home to the Vice President and her family.

"It reflects America," Emhoff said. "And that's what it should be. It should just be about love and unity."

Click here for Part 1 of Jane Pauley's interview with Kamala Harris.

For more info:

The Vice President-Elect: Kamala Harris

Story produced by Alan Golds. Editor: Ed Givnish.

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