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Doug Emhoff prepares to break new ground as America’s second gentleman

Kamala Harris is creating history in her role as vice-president elect. But her husband also finds himself in a unique position

As the first female vice-president and the first woman of colour to be nominated for the role, Kamala Harris has made history with her journey to the White House.

Jill Biden, wife of president-elect Joe Biden, is expected to assume the title of first lady. Spouses of previous vice-presidents were given the informal designation of second lady.

But now, as a result of Harris’s successes, her husband, Doug Emhoff, will break new ground too – as the US’s first second gentleman.

The 56-year-old entertainment lawyer and father-of-two from California is also thought to be the first Jewish person to assume the “second spouse” role.

At Biden’s first joint appearance with Harris as his running mate, the incoming president said: “Doug, you’re going to have to learn what it means to be a barrier-breaker yourself in this job you’re about to take on.”

But already he appears to be reveling in the role.

“I’m not overly political,” he told Marie Claire in October. “I’m overly her husband.”

Kamala Harris and Douglas Emhoff at the Democratic national convention in Wilmington, Delaware, on 19 August. Photograph: Olivier Douliery/AFP/Getty Images

His bio on Twitter, where he posted a steady stream of pictures and videos from the campaign trail, reads: “Dad, @kamalaharris hubby, lawyer, wannabe golfer, advocate for justice and equality.”

But he is not just an enthusiastic cheerleader. He has also proved to be an effective campaigner.

Eric Garcetti, the Los Angeles mayor and Biden-Harris national co-chair, recently told the Washington Post that Emhoff was their “secret weapon” on the campaign trail.

Barbara Perry, director of presidential studies at the University of Virginia’s Miller Center, said he appeared to be a “real hit”, both during the primaries and for the Biden campaign.

“A good sign that someone is a good campaigner is when he or she is sent out alone and doesn’t have to go with the spouse or the family member. That was the secret to the Kennedy family.”

Emhoff,…

Miranda Bryant

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