Kamala Harris launches 2020 campaign for White House

First-term Democratic Senator Kamala Harris of California, a rising party star and outspoken critic of President Donald Trump‘s immigration policies, launched her 2020 campaign for the White House on Monday.

‘I love my country,’ she said on ABC’s ‘Good Morning America‘ program. 

‘This is a moment in time that I feel a sense of responsibility to stand up and fight for the best of who we are.’

Harris, 54, enters the race with the potential advantage of being the Democratic candidate who looks most like the party’s increasingly diverse base of young, female and minority voters.

‘Let´s do this, together. Let´s claim our future. For ourselves, for our children, and for our country,’ Harris said in a campaign video that was released to coincide with her television appearance. She is the first black candidate with any national name recognition to enter the race.

Kamala Harris of California launched her 2020 campaign for the White House on Monday in an appearance on ABC's Good Morning America

Kamala Harris of California launched her 2020 campaign for the White House on Monday in an appearance on ABC's Good Morning America

Kamala Harris of California launched her 2020 campaign for the White House on Monday in an appearance on ABC’s Good Morning America

Harris was photographed getting a breakfast sandwich – an egg and cheese – at New York's Penn Station after announcing her run for president

Harris was photographed getting a breakfast sandwich – an egg and cheese – at New York's Penn Station after announcing her run for president

Harris was photographed getting a breakfast sandwich – an egg and cheese – at New York’s Penn Station after announcing her run for president

The senator was the first-ever female district attorney in San Francisco and the first black DA in all of California

The senator was the first-ever female district attorney in San Francisco and the first black DA in all of California

The senator was the first-ever female district attorney in San Francisco and the first black DA in all of California

Her announcement falls on the U.S. Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday honoring the slain civil rights leader, she selected that day as a reminder of his fight.

‘The thing about Dr. King that always inspires me is that he was aspirational. He was aspirational like our country is aspirational,’ Harris said on GMA. ‘We know that we’ve not yet reached those ideals. But our strength is that we fight to reach those ideals.’

‘So today, the day we celebrate Dr. King, is a very special day for all of us as Americans and I’m honored to be able to make my announcement on the day we commemorate him.’  

Harris’ parents are immigrants from Jamaica and India; she identifies as African-American. Her first name, pronounced ‘comma-la,’ is from the Sanskrit word for ‘lotus flower.’

The former California state attorney general has become popular with liberal activists for her tough questioning of Trump administration appointees and officials, including Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, during Senate hearings.

Sen. Harris is pictured Monday morning as she left the 'Good Morning America' studio in New York after making her presidential campaign announcement

Sen. Harris is pictured Monday morning as she left the 'Good Morning America' studio in New York after making her presidential campaign announcement

Sen. Harris is pictured Monday morning as she left the ‘Good Morning America’ studio in New York after making her presidential campaign announcement

Fundraising time: 24.99 tote bage and $29.99 hats and t-shirts went on sale Monday morning on a Kamala Harris website

Fundraising time: 24.99 tote bage and $29.99 hats and t-shirts went on sale Monday morning on a Kamala Harris website

Fundraising time: 24.99 tote bage and $29.99 hats and t-shirts went on sale Monday morning on a Kamala Harris website

Harris announced her candidacy on Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday; her parents are immigrants from Jamaica and India. She's pictured with fellow California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein in 2017

Harris announced her candidacy on Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday; her parents are immigrants from Jamaica and India. She's pictured with fellow California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein in 2017

Harris announced her candidacy on Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday; her parents are immigrants from Jamaica and India. She’s pictured with fellow California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein in 2017

She also has pulled no punches against Donald Trump as the month-old partial government shutdown continues,prolonged by a standoff over congressional funding for a border wall the president has promised for four years.

‘The president at this point is holding the American people hostage over his vanity project,’ she said last week during a ‘Morning Joe‘ interview on MSNBC. ‘That’s what’s happening. And this is a crisis of his own making.’ 

Republican National Committee spokesman Michael Ahrens said in a statement that Harris ‘is arguably the least vetted Democrat running for president, but it’s already clear how unqualified and out-of-touch she is.’

‘Her hometown paper says she was a bad manager as attorney general, and all she has to show for her brief time in the Senate is a radically liberal voting record.’

Her campaign will focus on reducing the high cost of living with a middle-class tax credit, pursuing immigration and criminal justice changes and a Medicare-for-all healthcare system. She has said she will reject corporate political action committee money.

Harris’ campaign will be based in Baltimore, with a second office in Oakland, California. Her slogan will be ‘For the People,’ in a nod to Harris’ roots as a prosecutor, aides said.

She will hold a launch rally in Oakland on Sunday, and also plans to travel to Columbia, S.C., on Friday to speak to the local chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority, which she joined at Howard University.

Harris' campaign launch video is long on traditional political pleas including a pledge to work in the White House 'for our children'

Harris' campaign launch video is long on traditional political pleas including a pledge to work in the White House 'for our children'

Harris’ campaign launch video is long on traditional political pleas including a pledge to work in the White House ‘for our children’

The senator will hold a campaign rally in Oakland, California to launch her White House bid next Sunday

The senator will hold a campaign rally in Oakland, California to launch her White House bid next Sunday

The senator will hold a campaign rally in Oakland, California to launch her White House bid next Sunday

Harris will officially launch her White House bid at a rally in Oakland, California on January 27; a protester held a photo of her at the Women's March in Los Angeles on Saturday

Harris will officially launch her White House bid at a rally in Oakland, California on January 27; a protester held a photo of her at the Women's March in Los Angeles on Saturday

Harris will officially launch her White House bid at a rally in Oakland, California on January 27; a protester held a photo of her at the Women’s March in Los Angeles on Saturday

As one of the earliest congressional critics of President Donald Trump’s immigration policies, Harris has pushed hard for a deal to protect from deportation those immigrants who came to the country illegally as children, a group known as Dreamers.

Harris is the sixth Democrat to enter what is shaping up to be a crowded battle for the nomination to challenge Trump, the likely Republican candidate. 

Former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julián Castro, Maryland Rep. John Delaney, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, New York Sen. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachussets are already campaigning.

She and other Democrats will have to navigate the party’s debate about whether an establishment figure who can appeal to centrist voters or a fresh face who can energize its increasingly diverse and progressive base offers the best chance to beat Trump in 2020.

Harris, who made history in 2016 as the first black woman elected to the U.S. Senate from California, has embraced the party’s diversity ahead of a Democratic nominating campaign where minority voters and liberal activists are expected to have an outsized voice.

Harris' slogan will be 'For the People,' in a nod to Harris' roots as a prosecutor, aides said

Harris' slogan will be 'For the People,' in a nod to Harris' roots as a prosecutor, aides said

Harris’ slogan will be ‘For the People,’ in a nod to Harris’ roots as a prosecutor, aides said

She has pushed back against critics of ‘identity politics,’ who she says are using the term as a pejorative to marginalize issues of race, gender and sexual orientation.

‘It is used to try and shut us up,’ Harris told a conference of liberal activists last summer.

The former San Francisco prosecutor drew notice when her rapid-fire grilling of Sessions during a 2017 Senate Judiciary Committee hearing caused him to complain.

‘It makes me nervous,’ Sessions said.

In September, she was among a handful of Democrats who aggressively questioned Kavanaugh at his Supreme Court confirmation hearing about his views on abortion and on the special counsel probe into potential Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

In the Senate, she has introduced a bill to give lower-income families cash payments and tax credits to help battle wage stagnation and rising housing costs, and has been a strong advocate of criminal justice reforms.

Harris launched a book tour in early January to promote a memoir, making a series of media appearances that helped bolster her visibility ahead of her campaign announcement.

Her campaign could be aided by the schedule for the state-by-state party nominating process that is scheduled to begin in February 2020.

The kickoff state of Iowa, which launched Barack Obama’s presidential bid in 2008, has a strong base of liberal activists, and the race will then quickly move to more diverse states such as Nevada and South Carolina. Her home state of California also has moved up its primary to increase its influence.

But political foes will pore over her record in California, where she has come under scrutiny for declining as attorney general to prosecute OneWest, the bank once headed by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, for alleged foreclosure violations.

Harris, who voted against Mnuchin’s confirmation as head of the Treasury, has said she ‘followed the facts’ in declining to prosecute.

She also has been criticized for saying she was not aware of sexual harassment allegations against one of her top aides, Larry Wallace, who resigned in December after a California newspaper asked him about a 2016 harassment lawsuit. 

Xavier Becerra, who replaced Harris as California attorney general, settled the lawsuit in May 2017 for $400,000. 

Among the allegations in the lawsuit was a claim that Wallace put an office printer under his desk and forced a female assistant to change the paper in it every day, sometimes making her crawl in dresses or skirts while other men watched.

WHO ARE ALL THE DEMOCRATS OFFICIALLY RUNNING FOR THE PRESIDENCY IN 2020 SO FAR?

ELIZABETH WARREN

Age on Inauguration Day 2021: 71

Entered race:  Set up exploratory committee December 31, 2018

Career: Law lecturer and academic who became an expert on bankruptcy law and tenured Harvard professor. Ran for Senate and won in 2012, defeating sitting Republican Scott Brown, held it in 2018 60% to 36%. Was short-listed to be Hillary’s running mate and campaigned hard for her in 2016

Family: Twice-married mother of two and grandmother of three. First husband and father of her children was her high-school sweetheart. Second husband Bruce Mann is Harvard law professor. Daughter Amelia Tyagi and son Alex Warren have both been involved in her campaigns. Has controversially claimed Native American roots; DNA test suggested she is as little as 1,064th Native American

Religion: Raised Methodist, now described as Christian with no fixed church

Views on key issues: Voted Republican until 1995 but has tacked left since. Pro: higher taxes on rich; banking regulation; Dream Act path to citizenship for ‘dreamers’; abortion and gay rights; campaign finance restrictions; and expansion of public provision of healthcare – although still to spell out exactly how that would happen. Against: U.S. presence in Afghanistan and Syria; liberalization of gambling

Slogan: To be announced 

KAMALA HARRIS  

Age on Inauguration Day: 56 

Entered race: Announced she was running January 21, 2018 – Martin Luther King Jr. Day – on Good Morning America 

Career: Howard and U.C. Hunter law school grad who worked as assistant district attorney in Alameda County, CA, then in San Francisco’s DA’s office before being elected San Francisco DA in 2003 and used it as springboard to run successfully for California attorney general in 2010. Won again in 2014 and was at center of U.S. attorney general and Supreme Court speculation but also endured a series of controversies, including over police brutality allegations. Ran for Senate in 2016 and established herself on liberal wing of party

Family: Born in Berkeley, CA, to immigrant Indian Tamil mother and Jamaican father who were both academics and brought up from seven to 18  in Montreal, Canada. Dated married San Francisco mayor Willie Brown, when he was 60 and she was 29. Married attorney Douglas Emhoff in 2014 and has two stepchildren; Cole, an aspiring actor, and Ella, an art and design student. Sister Maya was a Hillary Clinton adviser and brother-in-law Tony West is Uber’s chief legal counsel. Would be first female, first Indian-American and first female black president

Views on key issues: Social ultra-liberal who has rejected criticisms of ‘identity politics’ and is running without a political action committee, which will make her reliant on small donors. Has shifted left on criminal justice reform; supports Medicare for all;  pro-gun control and anti-death penalty; says illegal immigration is a civil not a criminal offense

Religion: Said she was brought up in both Baptist and Hindu tradition

Slogan: Kamala Harris: For The People 

KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND

Age on Inauguration Day: 54

Entered race: Announced exploratory committee on Stephen Colbert’s CBS show on January 16, 2019 

Career: Dartmouth and UCLA law grad who was a high-flying Manhattan attorney representing big businesses. Says she was inspired to enter politics by hearing Hillary Clinton speak, although she is also scion of a prominent New York Democratic political family. Won New York’s 20th district, centered on Albany in 2004; appointed to Hillary Clinton’s senate seat in 2008 and won it in 2010 special election 63-35; won first full term 2012 and re-elected 67-33 in 2018

Family: Married to British venture capitalist Jonathan Gillibrand with two sons, Theodore, 15, and Henry, ten. Father Douglas Lutnik was Democratic lobbyist; grandmother Polly Noonan was at center of Albany Democratic politics. Would be first female president

Religion: Catholic

Views on key issues: Initially pro-gun as Congresswoman, has since reversed herself to be pro-gun control and also pro-immigration; said Bill Clinton should have resigned over Monica Lewinsky and helped force Al Franken out of Senate over groping allegations; in favor of single-payer healthcare and Medicare for all

Slogan: To be announced

JULIAN CASTRO

Age on Inauguration Day 2021: 46

Entered race: January 12, 2018, at rally in his native San Antonio, TX. Had formed exploratory committee two months previously

Career: Stanford and Harvard graduate who was a San Antonio councilman at 26 and became mayor in 2009. Was Obama’s Housing and Urban Development secretary from 2014 to 2016

Family: Married with nine-year-old daughter, Carina, and four-year-old son, Cristian. His identical twin Joaquin, who is a minute younger, is Democratic congressman. Mother Maria del Rosario Castro was part of ‘radical’ third party for Mexican-Americans; father left his wife and five children for her but they never married. Would be first Hispanic-American president – announced his run in English and Spanish – and first-ever U.S. president with a twin

Religion:  Catholic

Views on key issues: Wants medicare for all; universal pre-K; action on affordable housing; will not take money from political action committees (PACs) tied to corporations or unions. Other views still to be announced

Slogan: One Nation. One Destiny

JOHN DELANEY

Age on Inauguration Day 2021: 57

Entered race: Filed papers July 28, 2017

Career: Three-time Maryland congressman, first winning election in 2012. Previously set up publicly-traded companies lending capital to healthcare and mid-size businesses and was youngest CEO at the time of a New York Stock Exchange-listed firm

Family: Married father of four; wife April works for children’s issues nonprofit 

Religion: Catholic 

Views on key issues: Social liberal in favor of legalized pot and gun control but not single-payer healthcare; fiscally conservative

Slogan: Focus on the Future

ANDREW YANG

Age on Inauguration Day 2021: 46

Entered race: Filed papers November 6, 2018

Career: Started a dotcom flop then become healthcare and education tech executive who set up nonprofit Venture for America

Family: Married father of two; would be first Asian-American president

Religion: Reformed Church

Views on key issues: Warns of rise of robots and artificial intelligence, wants $1,000 a month universal basic income and social media regulated 

Slogan: Humanity First

RICHARD OJEDA

Age on Inauguration Day 2021: 50

Entered race: Filed papers November 12, 2018

Career: Tattooed Army paratrooper officer with combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan awarded disability by VA; then high school teacher and West Virginia state senator. Lost 2018 run for Congress

Family: Married father of two; wife is paid caregiver for his combat-related disabilities; grandfather was illegal immigrant from Mexico. Would be first combat veteran president since George H.W. Bush

Religion: Not declared

Views on key issues: Populist union booster who backed teachers’ strike in West Virginia; wants lobbyists banned; won’t take corporate political action committee donations but will take from unions; voted for Trump in 2016 but regrets it

Slogan: To be announced 

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