Saturday 16 November 2019

'We are better than this' - Harris bids for White House

Pledge: US senator Kamala Harris during her presidential campaign launch. Photo: Mason Trinca/Getty Images
Pledge: US senator Kamala Harris during her presidential campaign launch. Photo: Mason Trinca/Getty Images

Chris Baynes in Los Angeles

Kamala Harris has kicked off her campaign for the White House at a rally attended by thousands of supporters in her hometown of Oakland.

The crowd packed out the California city's Frank Ogawa Plaza to watch the Democratic senator launch a bid to oust Donald Trump as US president in 2020.

"We are here because the American Dream and our American democracy are under attack and on the line like never before," Ms Harris said. "And we are here because we must answer a fundamental question: who are we? Who are we as Americans?

"So, let's answer that question to the world and each other right here, right now. America, we are better than this."

She invoked the speech that Robert F Kennedy gave in 1968 when he announced that he would challenge President Lyndon B Johnson, noting that Mr Kennedy said "at stake is not simply the leadership of our party and even our country, it is our right to moral leadership of this planet".

Ms Harris added: "So today I say to you: these are not ordinary times, and this will not be an ordinary election, but this is our America."

The first-term US senator announced her candidacy last Monday and launched her formal campaign in the city where she served as a prosecutor before becoming California's attorney general.

If she were to be elected, her victory would be historic: Ms Harris would be the first woman, first female African-American, and first person of Asian descent to become American president.

The daughter of Jamaican and Indian immigrants, Ms Harris said she had grown up in an East Bay community "with a deep belief in the promise of our country, and a deep understanding of the parts of that promise that still remain unfulfilled".

Ms Harris's campaign is expected to highlight her career as a prosecutor. She was the first woman elected district attorney in California, as well as the first black woman and first Asian-American to hold that job.

She said that she has "only had one client - the people", echoing words she has used in courtrooms and has adopted as her campaign's slogan.

She attacked Mr Trump directly, saying the US welcomed refugees and calling the wall the president wants to build along the US-Mexico border a "medieval vanity project".

She also said that, as president, she would "always speak with decency and moral clarity and treat all people with dignity and respect.

"I will lead with integrity. And I will tell the truth," she said.

Ms Harris is among the first major Democrats to jump into what is expected to be a crowded 2020 presidential contest. Senators Elizabeth Warren, of Massachusetts, and Kirsten Gillibrand, of New York, have announced exploratory committees.

Former Maryland representative John Delaney and Julian Castro, federal housing chief under former president Barack Obama and a former San Antonio mayor, already are in the race. Senators Cory Booker, of New Jersey, Sherrod Brown, of Ohio, Amy Klobuchar, of Minnesota, and Bernie Sanders, of Vermont, may also run.

Ms Harris, known for her rigorous questioning of Mr Trump's nominees, has vowed to "bring our voices together".

Meanwhile, President Trump said yesterday that former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz did not have the "guts" to run for the presidency and questioned his intellect just 24 hours after he announced a possible White House bid.

Mr Schultz, who led the coffee chain for three decades, said on Sunday night that he was "seriously considering" running as an independent candidate. His pitch was treated with disdain by some Democrats, who fear his candidacy would take votes off their party and hand Mr Trump a second term.

During an interview on CBS News, the 65-year-old said he is not always the smartest person in the room but can build teams of people who are "more skilled" than himself.

He waved away concerns that a "tweet-storm" from Mr Trump would follow his appearance, saying: "I think, like most people, I've become bored with President Trump and his tweets."

But Mr Trump obliged, tweeting: "Howard Schultz doesn't have the 'guts' to run for President! Watched him last night and I agree with him that he is not the 'smartest person'." (© Independent News Service)

Irish Independent

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Editors Choice

Also in World News