On July 31, during the second night of a two-night debate held in Detroit, Michigan among the Democratic Party’s candidates for President, Rep Tulsi Gabbard (HI) attracted a good deal of attention by launching a direct attack on the prosecutorial record of Sen. Kamala Harris (CA).
Senator Harris has long adopted a ‘tough cop’ persona as part of her political appeal. In 2004, Harris became the District Attorney of San Francisco. In 2010, she was elected California’s Attorney General. She went from that post into the US Senate in 2016. This history gives her a resume on which to run, but it has also given opponents a target.
In the debate in Detroit, Gabbard said of Harris’s record as prosecutor, “She put over 1,500 people in jail for marijuana violations and then laughed about it when she was asked if she ever smoked marijuana.” What is more, Gabbard said that Harris “blocked evidence that would have freed an innocent man from death row until the courts forced her to do so,” and that she “kept people in prison beyond their sentences to use them as cheap labor for the State of California.”
The Thing to Know:
Gabbard, who has been an almost peripheral figure in the campaign thus far, may now receive greater prominence. Meanwhile, Harris will have to come up with convincing answers to the Gabbard challenge in the months ahead.
Former Vice President Joseph Biden is now a candidate for the Democratic Party’s nomination for President of the United States. He announced this campaign in a 3 1/2 minute YouTube video on Thursday, April 25, 2019.
Biden served for 36 years in the US Senate representing Delaware, then as Vice President for eight.
During his long career in the Senate Biden of course took controversial stands. Some of these will amount to significant ‘baggage’ in the intra-party fight over the coming months. In particular, Biden’s support was critical to the passage of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994. This law expanded the availability of the death penalty for federal offenses, created a “three strikes” rule mandating many life sentences, and eliminated the ability of low-income inmates to receive Pell Grants in order to earn a college degree while “in any Federal or State penal institution.”
The Thing to Know:
Given the current climate of US politics and the respective bases of the two major parties, the tough-on-crime aspects of the 1994 law may make it more difficult than it would otherwise have been for Biden to win the Democratic Party’s nomination, but may also make it more likely for him to win the election as a ‘centrist’ if he does secure the party nod.
Senator Kamala Harris, newly declared candidate for president in 2020, talks with Rachel Maddow about the American call to public service, and lessons from controversies in her political past.
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Kamala Harris Calls On Americans To Step Up, Cites ‘Inflection Moment’ | Rachel Maddow | MSNBC