‘This president isn’t trying to make America great; he’s trying to make America hate.’
Kamala Harris intensified her frontal assault on Donald Trump late Sunday, condemning the president for attacking communities of color and denigrating African countries with “foul language no president should speak.”
Harris, decamping from her brand-reinforcing battering of Attorney General Bill Barr, singled out Trump’s response to the violent marchers in Charlottesville, Va. “It’s time we had a president who’s not scared to call neo-Nazi violence what it is: domestic terrorism,” the Democratic presidential hopeful told thousands at the NAACP’s Freedom Fund dinner reception in Detroit.
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While Harris has not shied away from taking on Trump on the campaign trail, the California senator had largely kept focused on what she describes as his dangerous policies, even as Democratic rivals like Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden assail the president on character and moral grounds. Harris’ remarks in Detroit represented an escalation in her pointed rhetoric against Trump. It was also an opportunity, albeit obliquely, for Harris to punch holes in the persistent media narrative that it will take a white, male candidate to win over white, working-class voters in the Midwest.
Harris directly accused Trump of going after communities and leaders of color by name. She spoke about Trump’s “war” to destroy Obamacare. And she accused him of fueling sexism, racism, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, homophobia, and transphobia.
“Let’s speak truth here today — this president isn’t trying to make America great; he’s trying to make America hate,” Harris said. “So, it is critical to our security, our dignity, and our unity as a nation when I say: ‘We need a new president.’“
Harris arrived in Michigan with momentum from her tough questioning of Barr during the Senate Judiciary hearing last week. The viral moment helped buttress her campaign’s main theory: That she, a career prosecutor, could match wits with the brash president and use her courtroom training to prosecute the case against his policies.
Harris had mostly refrained from wading into questions about the 2020 electoral map, including when she’s asked about how Democrats could appeal to white, working-class voters in the Midwest. But during her first extended trip to the Rust Belt as a presidential candidate, Harris began to lay out what she — a coastal senator who is black and represents a liberal state — believes is missing from the usual debate since Trump swept Hillary Clinton in the key battlegrounds in 2016.
“There has been a conversation by pundits about ‘electability’ and ‘who can speak to the Midwest?’ Harris said, arguing that the focus of the debate tends to put the Midwest in a “simplistic box” — and “leaves out” entire constituencies, including women and African Americans her campaign is counting on to power her in the primaries.
“It leaves out people in this room who helped build cities like Detroit,” Harris told the largely black audience. “It leaves out working women who are on their feet all day — many of them working without equal pay.”
Harris continued, contending the conversation too often suggests certain voters will only vote for certain candidates — regardless of whether their ideas help all families.
“It’s short-sighted. It’s wrong,” she said. “And voters deserve better.”
“Our party is not white or Black, Hispanic or Asian, immigrant or indigenous,” she later added. “It is all of us.”