Sen. Kamala Harris, 1st ever Indian American, announces bid for US president

Senate Judiciary Committee member Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., joined by from left, Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, and Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., right, speaks to media about the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh on Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, Sept. 28, 2018. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Kamala Harris, 54, the daughter of immigrants from Jamaica and India, has announced her decision to enter the crowded political field of Democratic candidates, seeking to unseat incumbent, President Donald Trump.

Kamala Harris announced Monday, January 21st, that she is running for president in 2020, arguing that the time has come to fight against what she views as the injustices of the past two years of the Trump presidency.

Harris chose to announce on Monday to honor the legacies of two of her heroes. Forty-seven years ago this week, Shirley Chisholm, the first black woman ever to run for president, launched her campaign. And Martin Luther King Jr. has been a role model for Harris throughout her life in what she views as his “aspirational fight for progress.”

In a brief video from her campaign that was released on social media Monday morning at the same time she appeared on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” Harris called on her supporters to join with her to “claim our future.”

“Justice. Decency. Equality. Freedom. Democracy. These aren’t just words. They’re the values we as Americans cherish. And they’re all on the line now,” Harris said in the video, teasing her official kickoff in her birthplace of Oakland next Sunday.

“The future of our country depends on you and millions of others lifting our voices to fight for our American values,” the Democratic California senator said. “That’s why I’m running for president of the United States. “I’m running to lift those voices, to bring our voices together.”

Harris is the first African-American woman and the first Indian American to announce a run for the White House in 2020, and the fourth woman in the field. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, the first Hindu seeking the highest office, also announced earlier this month that she is running, and Democratic Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York have both announced exploratory committees, a step that Harris is skipping.

In a 2020 field that now includes four women, her allies believe that her life’s work as a prosecutor — from her start in Alameda County trying grisly crimes such as sexual assault to felonies including homicide — will help set her apart. The style developed over those years helped her build a national following when she grilled President Donald Trump’s nominees, including Brett Kavanaugh when he was a Supreme Court nominee.

Her book tour earlier this month served as a soft launch for her presidential bid, showcasing her strong appeal among women, minorities and millennials — as well as the criticism she will face over aspects of her long and complex record as a prosecutor, district attorney of San Francisco and attorney general of California.

Harris sought to use the anecdotes in the new book to demonstrate her toughness, including how she took on the big banks as California’s attorney general after the foreclosure crisis and held out for a $20 billion settlement for California homeowners. The clear subtext throughout her appearances was that she would not be bullied by anyone, including Trump.

While avoiding directly engaging Trump, Harris has accused the President of stoking racist and xenophobic rhetoric, while aligning his administration with white supremacists at home, and cozying up to dictators abroad.

She has argued that the needs of the middle class have been ignored, citing the federal shutdown over the President’s “vanity project” — a border wall — as the latest example.

Harris’ campaign will be headquartered in Baltimore — giving aides an East Coast hub in a racially diverse city that has struggled with wide income disparities — and Oakland, where Harris was born to immigrant parents who came to the US to advance their academic careers.

The former prosecutor chose yellow and red for her campaign logo in a nod to Chisholm’s bid for president with its red and yellow campaign buttons. Her signs will carry her campaign theme “Kamala Harris for the people,” the words that she spoke each time she rose in the courtroom as a prosecutor.

Juan Rodriguez, the strategist who managed Harris’ successful campaign for Senate in 2016 and advised California Gov. Gavin Newsom in his recent campaign, will be her campaign manager. Her sister Maya Harris, who advised Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, will serve as her campaign chair. She will continue to be guided by her longtime strategists Sean Clegg and Ace Smith.

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