California Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris, who saw a spike in her popularity last fall after her antagonistic questioning of then-Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, announced Monday that she is running for president.
The announcement followed weeks of planning and several trips by Harris to Iowa, a key state for any presidential contender.
Harris made her announcement on “Good Morning America” on the federal holiday honoring slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. She said it was “very important” to her to connect her campaign with the civil rights movement of the 1960s.
“We know that we’ve not yet reached those ideals,” she said. “Our strength is that we fight to reach those ideals.”
Harris also released a campaign video.
— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) January 21, 2019
“Justice. Decency. Equality. Freedom. Democracy. These aren’t just words. They’re the values we as Americans cherish. And they’re all on the line now,” Harris said in the video.
The depth of support for Harris is unclear as she makes her announcement.
A poll by the group She The People, which targets minority women involved in politics, gave Harris 71 percent support, according to The Hill.
However, in a Harvard-Harris Poll of a cross-section of Democrats, Harris polled only at 4 percent, well behind the 25 percent showing of front-runner and former Vice President Joe Biden.
Harris was recently criticized in a New York Times opinion piece written by law professor Lara Bazelon, who said the California Democrat is not as progressive as she wants to be portrayed.
“Time after time, when progressives urged her to embrace criminal justice reforms as a district attorney and then the state’s attorney general, Ms. Harris opposed them or stayed silent,” Bazelon wrote.
“Most troubling, Ms. Harris fought tooth and nail to uphold wrongful convictions that had been secured through official misconduct that included evidence tampering, false testimony and the suppression of crucial information by prosecutors,” she added.
However, Republican consultant Colin Reed, in a Fox News column, said Harris is a strong candidate.
“At 54, Harris is two decades younger than some of her septuagenarian competitors – an age that enables her to appeal to the Instagram crowd without being painted as inexperienced. A child of immigrants, she brings diversity to a party obsessed with racial and gender politics,” he wrote.
Harris joins a number of Senate Democrats in the 2020 race. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York have already entered the campaign. Cory Booker of New Jersey, Sherrod Brown of Ohio and Amy Klobuchar are expected to at least dip their toes in the water.
Bernie Sanders, a Vermont independent who caucuses with the Democrats, is also considered likely to reprise his 2016 presidential effort.
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