Harris, a former prosecutor and attorney general in California, chose her slogan because "Kamala Harris, for the people" was the phrase she would say in court. Both women are attempting to become the first female president after Hillary Clinton lost to Donald Trump in 2016.
Harris also did not shy away from taking on Trump directly, saying the USA welcomes refugees and calling the wall that Trump wants to build at the southern border a "medieval vanity project" that would not actually stop transnational gangs, which she noted she battled as state attorney general.
Senator Kamala Harris holds her niece Amara while standing with her husband Douglas Emhoff and her family as she holds a rally to launch her 2020 presidential campaign in her hometown of Oakland, California, U.S., January 27, 2019. This is something Harris seemed to use to her advantage. She also said that, as president, she would "always speak with decency and moral clarity and treat all people with dignity and respect". Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas) endorsed his twin brother, former San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro. Her campaign is focusing on women's issues, but when asked by WNYCs Brigid Bergin if she could make the case as effectively as Harris to black women, a core demographic of the Democratic Party, she demurred.
Harris rarely mentioned Trump by name, but he was clearly a target.
"America, we are better than this", she told the crowd of roughly 20,000 people.
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Harris took a barely concealed shot at Trump and his administration as she spoke of the "arrogance of power", warning: "The American dream and our American democracy are under attack and on the line like never before". "And we are here at this moment in time because we must answer a fundamental question: Who are we?"
Harris, whose father is from Jamaica and whose mother is Indian, said that "in the face of powerful forces trying to sow hate and division among us, the truth is that as Americans, we have so much more in common than what separates us". Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), are still considering running.
Her speech made it clear Harris is eager to take on Trump, but the California senator faces tough competition in the Democratic primary.
Harris joins early Democratic contenders including former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro, Maryland's John Delaney, Hawaii's Tulsi Gabbard and NY senator Kirsten Gillibrand. She said her platform will include several progressive policies like debt-free college and "Medicare for all", which would allow Americans to opt into government-run health coverage. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), have also entered the race, while others, including former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen.
But Harris' early and energetic entry into the race has given her a leg up.