WASHINGTON (AP) — An overzealous prosecutor trying to hide her crime-fighting past — who is also weak on crime. The most radical pick for vice president ever.
President Donald Trump’s campaign has made it clear that he will not hesitate to characterize California Sen. Kamala Harris, the newly announced running mate for Democratic rival Joe Biden. President Trump has called Harris “nasty.”
“The ‘suburban housewife’ will be voting for me. They want safety & are thrilled that I ended the long running program where low income housing would invade their neighborhood. Biden would reinstall it, in a bigger form, with Corey Booker in charge!” he tweeted Wednesday, referring to the Democratic senator and former mayor of Newark, New Jersey.
Like Biden, Harris has staked out relatively moderate stances over the course of her career on issues such as health care and law enforcement. Nevertheless, her and Biden’s supporters include many far-left wing radicals who want to defund the police and enact full national health insurance.
With Trump lagging in the polls less than 90 days before the election, his team faces a pivotal choice. Do they attempt to fire up their own base and scare off moderates by painting Biden and Harris as radical socialists? Or do they aim to depress enthusiasm among the Democratic base by arguing Biden and Harris are opportunistic and insufficiently liberal?
“Clearly, Phony Kamala will abandon her own morals, as well as try to bury her record as a prosecutor, in order to appease the anti-police extremists controlling the Democrat Party,” senior campaign adviser Katrina Pierson said in the Trump’s campaign’s first statement responding to the news.
During his Fox News program on Tuesday, host Sean Hannity called Harris the “most radical running mate ever.” At the same time as it echoed that messaging, the Republican National Committee also sought to frame her as insufficiently liberal, gleefully declaring: “liberals revolt against Biden, Harris ticket.”
The Trump campaign is seeking to animate its own supporters against “radicals” and sow apathy among Democrats, an anonymous official inside the Trump campaign said.
Biden campaign spokesperson Andrew Bates accused Trump of struggling “in vain attempts to tear the American people apart and distract the country from his devastating mismanagement with clumsy, bigoted lies,” and called him “dumbfounded after Joe Biden’s selection of a strong running mate who he himself said not two weeks ago would be a ‘fine choice.’”
President Trump told reporters on Tuesday that Harris was his “No. 1 draft pick” and that he thought she would help his political prospects.
President Trump’s repeated attacks against “Crooked” Hillary Clinton had a devastating effect on her campaign in 2016.
Trump’s campaign has been plotting for almost two years to characterize the Democratic nominee and running mate as beholden to the “radical left.” That might have gained traction had progressive leaders Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren won the nomination.
But it’s a harder case to make against Biden, who didn’t embrace “Medicare for All” during the Democratic primary and has resisted more recent calls from some activists to defund the police.
Harris ran her own campaign for the Democratic nomination as a relative moderate in the field. The former California attorney general also served as district attorney in San Francisco, and her record in law enforcement came under scrutiny and turned away some liberals and younger Black voters who saw her as out of step on issues of racism in the legal system and police brutality.
Yet on a conference call with reporters responding to the news Tuesday evening, Trump’s campaign continued to push the narrative that Harris is a “leftist” pushing a “radical agenda.”
“This has completed the leftist takeover of the party and of their radical agenda,” said Republican Sen. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, who claimed Harris “will be the most liberal leftist nominee for VP that our country has ever seen” and cited her support for the Black Lives Matter group.
“With this move to left,” she predicted, “what you’re going to see is a lot of security moms that are all across this nation who are going to say, ‘You know what? Law and order is important to me…. Security in our communities is important, and I don’t want someone who says that they are not going to be tough on hardened criminals.’”
On the same call, Pierson went after Harris’ record as attorney general, saying that “she fought to keep inmates locked up in overcrowded prisons so they could be used for cheap labor” and that she “championed laws that put parents in jail and prosecuted the mentally ill.”