US Democratic vice presidential nominee and Senator from California, Kamala Harris' uncle Balachandran Gopalan speaks during an interview in New Delhi on October 8, 2020. (Photo by PRAKASH SINGH/AFP via Getty Images)

Kamala Harris’ uncle back in India watched her vice-presidential debate with pride on Thursday, feeling “a little sorry” for Mike Pence, who he said came up against a better-qualified foe.

“Expectations were too much of Kamala — ‘she’ll wipe the floor’, etc. But Pence has also been a Congressman knows how to debate. But Pence has an albatross around his neck — and that’s Trump,” Balachandran Gopalan, 79, told AFP in New Delhi after the US election debate in Salt Lake City.

“I felt a little sorry for Pence. You can’t ask about the judiciary — she was on the judiciary committee, was attorney general, on Black Lives Matter she’s an expert, on the pandemic, he’s on weak ground,” the academic said.

The debate saw Harris call US President Donald Trump’s Covid-19 response a historic failure, in a pointed but mostly civil discussion compared with Trump’s chaotic confrontation with Joe Biden last week.

Harris, 55, was the first black attorney general of California, the first woman to hold the post, and the first South Asian American senator ever.

She was born in California in 1964 to a Jamaican father, economics professor John Harris, and breast cancer specialist Shyamala Gopalan — Balachandran Gopalan’s late sister.

“My daughter in Washington watched (the debate), my sister in Toronto watched and my younger sister in Chennai also watched it,” the uncle said Thursday.

“Her mother would have been happy for Kamala.”

“Although maybe Shyamala was far more impatient than Kamala at times,” he added. “I wouldn’t be surprised if Shyamala was the debater or in the audience — she would have said ‘what rubbish are you talking, vice-president’.

“But Kamala was kinder.”