Capitol Alert

After Biden exchange, Kamala Harris was the talk of Twitter

Harris confronts Biden about racism in tense exchange

Democratic presidential candidate Kamala Harris confronts Joe Biden about racism during the second day of the NBC Democratic Presidential Primary Debates for the 2020 elections on June 27, 2019.
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Democratic presidential candidate Kamala Harris confronts Joe Biden about racism during the second day of the NBC Democratic Presidential Primary Debates for the 2020 elections on June 27, 2019.

It’s safe to say that California Sen. Kamala Harris had a pretty good night Thursday.

Social media lit up with references to her performance at the second of two 2020 Democratic presidential primary debates, particularly regarding her confrontation with former Vice President Joe Biden.

“I do not believe you are a racist, and I agree with you when you commit yourself to the importance of finding common ground,” Harris told Biden. “But I also believe, and it’s personal, and it was actually very hurtful to hear you talk about the reputations of two United States senators who built their reputations and career on the segregation of race in this country. And it was not only that but you also worked with them to oppose busing.”

Harris then revealed that busing was personal to her.

“There was a little girl in California who was part of the second class to fully integrate her public school and she was bused to schools every day, and that little girl was me,” she said.

Many people of color took to Twitter to voice solidarity with Harris’ acknowledgment of her status as the only black person on the stage.

“That is a stance so many black people have to take in crowded rooms to get heard,” said PBS correspondent Yamiche Alcindor.

Others praised Harris for her calling out of her fellow Democrats for arguing, saying voters don’t want to see a food fight, but want to know how they’ll “put food on the table.”

Among those offering praise was former California First Lady Maria Shriver, calling Harris “strong, clear, and to the point.”

Many commenters pointed out that Harris’ exchange with Biden hinted at the possibility of an explosive confrontation with President Donald Trump in a general election debate.

Trump’s prolific Twitter account has not tweeted about Harris’ performance, but New York Times reporter Annie Karni tweeted that his camp is watching Harris “warily.”

However, it wasn’t all plaudits for Harris.

Harris’ blistering exchange with Biden was immediately followed by her touting her role as California attorney general in mandating police body cams, a role that is not as clear cut as she portrayed, as Anna Massoglia of OpenSecrets.org pointed out.

Then there was her confusing answer to the question of whether she supported Medicare-for-All and the abolition of private insurance companies. Harris raised her hand saying she supported that plan, but later said she misunderstood the question and would not eliminate private insurance.

Elizabeth Harrington, spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee, pounced on that remark.

Then there was the tweet, later deleted, from Biden’s director of strategic communications, Kamau W. Marshall, a tweet captured by The Atlantic staff writer Edward Isaac-Dovere.

“Dear black people: Don’t be black when it’s convenient. Be black 365/24-7. Period. Sincerely, a black man,” Marshall tweeted.

“The tweet was deleted about an hour ago, and the campaign is ignoring repeated requests to explain what the meaning of it was,” Isaac-Dovere said.

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Andrew Sheeler covers California’s unique political climate for McClatchy. He has covered crime and politics from Interior Alaska to North Dakota’s oil patch to the rugged coast of southern Oregon. He attended the University of Alaska Fairbanks.
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