Kamala Harris will use a Saturday night address in South Carolina to mount a forceful defense of her prosecutorial record, which has been under scrutiny since she entered the race for president.
The Democratic senator from California, speaking at an event organized by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in Columbia, S.C., will pitch her law enforcement career as her greatest strength in a contest against President Donald Trump, focusing on the victims of crime she’s stood up for, the perpetrators and powerful interests she worked to hold accountable, and how she’s made the system fairer, according to a senior Harris campaign official who outlined the speech.
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“She will reject the labels that some commentators and pundits have placed on her record during the campaign, and articulate not only why she became a prosecutor but what her vision was in the job,” the Harris official told POLITICO.
Harris has faced near-constant questions about her record as a line prosecutor, her time as district attorney of San Francisco and her years as attorney general of California — amid the black-lives-matter era and with a Democratic electorate that has moved left on criminal justice reform. Harris has shown sensitivity to how her record is playing, backtracking to varying degrees on investigations over officer-involved shootings and school truancy.
But Harris and her campaign have maintained that they see her career as a big asset — and plan to use it. The South Carolina speech is a way for Harris to summarize how she views it on her own terms, including arguments she’s made in past interviews that have not stuck.
“She will bust myths that claim the black community doesn’t want any type of law enforcement or that say being a prosecutor and being progressive are mutually exclusive,” the aide said. “Just as she prosecuted cases against those trying to harm the people, she will lay out the case against Trump — what she will call ‘the case for a new president.’”