For Kamala Harris, being first means attention and attacks

“I could see so much of what I had been through in what she had gone through,” mentioned Spearman, who would go on to be one in all Harris’s earliest endorsers.

The firsts that Harris’s candidacy promised electrified her most passionate supporters within the Democratic major, particularly those that dubbed themselves a part of the “KHive.” And although her personal bid for the White House ended early, a few of the similar vitality carried by means of after former vp Joe Biden selected her as his working mate. When she is sworn in, Harris will turn out to be the first feminine vp and, because the daughter of Jamaican and Indian immigrants, additionally the first Black and first South Asian one.

But if Harris’s background has offered exponentially extra methods for her to resonate with Americans, it additionally has multiplied the quantity of criticism she receives. Harris has waved off discuss of any future campaigns, together with laughing off the prospect of facingPresident Trump again in 2024. However, the acclaim, criticisms and attacks she confronted within the major and common elections shine a lightweight on how Harris may turn out to be a central focus throughout the Biden presidency.

Before Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) grew to become the first Black woman and Asian American to win the vice presidency, she was a trailblazer in California politics. (The Washington Post)

Harris’s pivot away from Medicare-for-all in the course of the first drew criticism from the occasion’s far left. Activists and youthful Black voters scrutinized her profession as a prosecutor and later as lawyer common. Harris has mentioned she was motivated to reform the prison justice system from the within, however to this present day, her tweets are sometimes adopted by folks deriding her as a “cop.”

Other criticisms from Democratic voters and analysts had been subtler. Often, it was insinuated that Harris, a first-term senator, didn’t have the requisite expertise to be president, regardless of the larger deficit amongst a few of the different major candidates — to not point out Trump earlier than he was elected.

Spearman noticed it as the identical bias in opposition to women of colour that she had confronted in her personal political profession.

“The fact that she was a Black woman, how people would kind of skirt around the edges, but you know what they were saying,” Spearman mentioned. “You know that they would never do a man like that and they would never do a White man like that.”

Trump and the GOP’s attacks on Harris have been blunter and function a highway map for criticisms Harris is more likely to face as vp.

During the final election, Trump known as Harris a “monster.” He tried to color her as somebody who was to the left of even Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and who would supplant Biden on the first attainable likelihood.

Almost worse, Trump instructed: Harris was a woman.

“We’re not going to have a socialist president — especially a female socialist president,” Trump mentioned at one rally. “We’re not gonna have it. We’re not gonna put up with it!”

At one other rally, Trump performed on gender and racial stereotypes about offended Black women to mock Harris laughing in an interview.

“Kamala. Kamala. You know, if you don’t pronounce her name exactly right, she gets very angry at you,” Trump mentioned, mispronouncing her identify. “And then she starts — you know what she does when she gets angry? She starts laughing. . . . Uncontrollable laughs. That means she’s angry.”

A Harris aide mentioned the insults from Trump weren’t shocking, given his historical past of mocking folks, particularly women of colour, whom he opposes.

“For her, it just sort of rolls right off. She does not pay attention. It does not get her down,” mentioned Harris spokeswoman Sabrina Singh.

It was not simply Trump who appeared to continuously deliberately mispronounce Harris’s first identify, which is of Hindi origin, as if to solid her as outdoors the American norm. At a Trump rally in October, then-Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.) mentioned dismissively: “Ka-ma-la, Ka-ma-la, Kamala-mala-mala, I don’t know, whatever.” Though Perdue waved off the incident as one with out ailing intent, others noticed it as a racial canine whistle.

Other attacks on Harris have come from a lot darker corners of the Internet — and have been readily picked up and disseminated by right-wing media retailers and conservative pundits. (The Washington Post traced the evolution of one such sexist attack.) Early within the major, a small group of activists questioned Harris’s Black identity as a result of her father immigrated from Jamaica. The cost was amplified by right-wing trolls, and then retweeted by Trump’s eldest son.

During the first, one perennial far-right troll tried to name into query Harris’s eligibility to run for president due to her dad and mom’ immigrant standing. After Biden selected her as his working mate, Trump questioned her citizenship, bringing it upas a rumor he had heard, which was swiftly condemned by Democrats and even some Republicans as a smear try.

“Trump coming in gave a shield, I think, to his party to sort of exhibit bad behavior,” a transition aide mentioned of the mockery and smears that emerged from Republicans throughout the race. “He’s enabled people to be nasty, and unfortunately, I think people [in his base] respond to that nastiness.”

The aide, who spoke on the situation of anonymity to debate future elections, didn’t count on that to abate even after Trump leaves the White House.

“I would like to think it does. I don’t think it actually does, though,” the aide mentioned. “Unless Donald Trump himself changes his behavior, he’s going to continue to allow Republicans and the Republican Party — he’s going to give them cover to do this.”

With Democrats successful each Senate seats in Georgia, Harris would be the one to solid any tie-breaking votes, placing her at odds together with her former Republican colleagues in an already polarized Senate. (Several senators objected to the certification of Biden’s win.)

Several Republicans are already positioning themselves for presidential runs in 2024, beginning by difficult the legitimacy of the November election to align themselves with Trump, who has continued to unfold baseless conspiracy theories about voter fraud and whose political future is unclear.

Susan MacManus, a political analyst and professor emerita on the University of South Florida, mentioned she would count on extra Republican efforts to color Harris as a far-left socialist, partly to keep away from overt attacks on race and gender as each events struggle for an more and more engaged feminine, Latino and Asian American voters. Harris additionally simply so occurs to be from the state conservatives like to caricature for its liberal politics.

“When Republicans talk about the most dysfunctional state government and the most [ideologically] ‘out there,’ so to speak, California is at the top of the list, followed by New York,” MacManus mentioned. “That’s the perception.”

That will solely sharpen if Harris seems to be a candidate in 2024. Biden aides have signaled he plans to run for a second time period, however that has not stopped the chatter about 2024 Democratic hopefuls. (Biden could be 82 years outdated on the finish of his first time period.) The portfolio Harris takes on throughout her tenure as vp will illuminate which areas she is making an attempt to strengthen in preparation for a future run, mentioned Kathryn Dunn Tenpas, a senior fellow of governance research on the Brookings Institution.

And Biden, a former vp himself, will possible be keen to help these future ambitions.

“I suspect because of Biden’s age, the fact that he’s been in government for so many years and because Biden cares a lot about the Democratic Party, that I think he will do what he can to empower her,” Dunn Tenpas mentioned. “ . . . I don’t think they need to tell her not to overshadow Biden. A vice president has a pretty tough time overshadowing a president.”

Some Harris allies are already factoring her future profession into the query of what she’s going to face as vp.

Derrick Johnson, president of the NAACP, mentioned he wasn’t eager on the concept of Harris being tasked with overseeing police reform points, believing that doing so may diminish her position and hobble her development by casting her right into a racially charged place. He wish to see her given a far broader portfolio of obligations.

As an outgoing senator, “she understands the protocols of the Senate and the policies that fall there,” Johnson mentioned. “She is a skilled attorney. She understands the judicial system. She brings so many skills to the table that I will be anxiously watching to see how she can bring to bear all of her skills, both domestic and internationally.”

Dunn Tenpas mentioned any prognostications now about 2024 would possible be in useless.

“Four years in American politics is more than a lifetime. It’s several lifetimes,” she mentioned. “It’s almost as though the ones that plan ahead and try to do it so diligently and carefully, they sink.”

Tim Craig contributed to this report.



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