U.S. President Donald Trump Wednesday called Senator Kamala Harris, presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s running mate, “the kind of opponent everyone dreams of.”
“Kamala Harris started strong in the Democrat Primaries, and finished weak, ultimately fleeing the race with almost zero support,” the president said on Twitter.
.@KamalaHarris started strong in the Democrat Primaries, and finished weak, ultimately fleeing the race with almost zero support. That’s the kind of opponent everyone dreams of!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 12, 2020
After Harris’s selection was announced Tuesday, Trump said he was surprised she was Biden’s pick for vice president and called Harris’s own run for the presidency a failure.
“I was more surprised than anything else because she did so poorly … in the primaries,” Trump said Tuesday at a White House news conference.
Trump accused Harris of being “extraordinarily nasty” to then-Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh as she questioned him about sexual misconduct accusations at his 2018 confirmation hearing.
“I thought she was the meanest, the most horrible, most disrespectful of anybody in the U.S. Senate,” he said.
Trump also accused Harris of being “very, very nasty” and “very disrespectful” to Biden during a Democratic primary debate last year and tried to paint her as being too far to the left, maintaining she is “the most liberal person in the U.S. Senate.”
Trump’s disparagement of Harris is not unlike his criticism of Hillary Clinton, the first woman to seek the presidency in a major party in the 2016 election. Trump called Clinton “nasty” during the campaign and retweeted a post earlier this year that called Clinton a “skank.”
His criticism of Harris comes after he and his daughter, Ivanka, a senior White House adviser, made multiple donations to Harris’s campaign for attorney general in the state of California between 2011 and 2014, according to the California Secretary of State’s office.
When a reporter asked about the donations, Trump did not respond. But Trump campaign spokeswoman Katrina Pierson said Trump donated to both Democratic and Republican candidates “as a private businessman.”
Harris is the first woman of color to be selected as a presidential running mate in a major party, a fact not lost on Alicia Garza, co-founder of the Black Lives Matter movement.
“For some activists, it is important that a Black woman is represented on this ticket. And for other activists, substance is going to be much more important than symbolism,” Garza said. “The trick of getting people out to vote will be a successful combination of the two. This is an incredible moment of opportunity. It’s a moment that is rife with possibility, and I’m still hopeful that this newly announced ticket will rise to meet the moment.”
The selection of Harris is an affirmation of the growing political influence of voters of color in the U.S., according to former Democratic National Committee chairwoman Donna Brazile.
“Joe Biden understood this historic moment required a tough, smart and respected public servant,” Brazile said.
Congresswoman Val Demings, who was also considered for as vice-presidential running mate, is among the many African American leaders who realize the importance of Harris’s selection.
“To see a Black woman nominated for the first time reaffirms my faith that in America, there is a place for every person to succeed no matter who they are or where they come from,” said Demings.
Former president Barack Obama, arguably the most popular figure in the Democratic Party, tweeted that Harris, the second Black female senator in U.S. history, “spent her career defending our Constitution and fighting for folks who need a fair shake.”
Not everyone, however, is as enthusiastic about Harris. Some political observers wonder if her record as California attorney general will hurt the Democratic Party’s chance of mobilizing younger Blacks, Latinos and other voters of color.
"While I fully appreciate her scope of responsibilities while she was in that role, I still think she was empowered to stand up more for minorities, and I think it was just a really missed opportunity," said Lindsey Roland, a 31-year-old Black woman who is a real estate agent in Michigan. "But I absolutely will be voting. We have far too much at stake. And for me, as a mother, I'm frightened, and I just feel like another four years with this administration will be catastrophic."
Some leading proponents of criminal justice reform, including Color of Change President Rashad Robinson, said while some voters will question Harris’s role as a prosecutor, he said Harris has evolved into an advocate of reform.
“What I appreciate about her is that she's been willing to listen and willing to evolve, and she's been willing to put legislation behind that evolution and policy platforms behind that evolution,” Robinson said. “Yes, I think there will be very real things that people will raise, but I think that she has been listening and working to address those things.”