President Barack Obama endorsed Democrat Kamala Harris for U.S. Senate on Tuesday, calling her a fearless fighter for the people of California, and dealing another blow to the campaign of rival Loretta Sanchez.
“I am proud to endorse Kamala Harris for United States Senate because I’ve seen her work,” Obama said in a prepared statement in which he praised her handling of banks following the mortgage crisis. “Kamala is a lifelong courtroom prosecutor with only one client: the people of the State of California. That’s the approach she’ll take to the United States Senate.
Harris, the state attorney general, also won the support of Vice President Joe Biden in her intraparty contest to succeed Sen. Barbara Boxer.
The endorsements, which come a week before the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, affirm Harris as the choice of her party.
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Obama lauded Harris’ work to root out transnational gangs exploiting women and children and her aggressive stance on for-profit colleges swindling students and burying them in debt. He also pointed to her efforts to protect gay marriage and reform the criminal justice system.
“Kamala’s experience has taught her that if you’re going to give everybody a fair shot, you’ve got to take on the special interests that too often stand in the way of progress,” Obama said.
Biden said he came to know Harris through his late son, Beau Biden, the former attorney general of Delaware.
“I served in the Senate and have worked my entire career with senators from both parties,” Biden said in the statement. “Today’s Senate needs people like her – leaders who will always fight to make a difference and who never forget where they come from.”
It’s unclear if Obama will campaign or raise money for Harris, who leads Sanchez, a longtime congresswoman from Orange County, in public polls and fundraising.
Obama and Harris have a history. Three years ago, he apologized after calling her “by far, the best-looking attorney general in the country” during a Democratic National Committee fundraiser in San Francisco. “It’s true. C’mon,” Obama added amid laughter.
“They are old friends and good friends and he did not want in any way to diminish the attorney general’s professional accomplishments and her capabilities,” then-White House spokesman Jay Carney said in a briefing at time.