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Harris pick sends Trump into a favorite pastime — bashing California

Noah Bierman and Evan Halper, Los Angeles Times on

Published in News & Features

WASHINGTON -- Early Wednesday, the morning after Joe Biden asked Kamala Harris to run as his vice president, Republicans blasted her as "A California Progressive Radical."

Hours later, the Trump campaign slammed the first-term U.S. senator from the nation's most populous state as "a California Radical who Completes the Left-Wing Takeover of Joe Biden."

For President Donald Trump and his followers, the fiery rhetoric has become almost reflexive, part of a larger political war against the Democratic-led state that includes pitched legal battles over environmental regulations, immigration policies, health care programs and access to voting.

The initial Republican attempts to hit Harris have been contradictory, on one hand labeling her a "phony" who lacks conviction, and on the other a tool of "radicals on the left," suggesting she is a zealous ideologue.

Attacking California, which has served as a conservative boogieman for decades, blurs some of those complications, conjuring images for some voters that Trump has drawn of cities overrun with crime, homeless people and immigrants.

Trump has said that San Francisco, where Harris began her political career, is "going to hell" and quoted media allies who called it an "American dystopia."


Democrats and other critics say the appeals are at least in part meant to further Trump's demonizing of minorities -- given that Latinos make up a plurality of the state's population -- something Trump's supporters deny.

Harris is not only the first Black woman to run for the White House on a major party ticket. She is the first Democrat from California, or indeed west of the Rockies, to do so.

Although Harris is known to Californians, she is relatively unknown on the national stage. She earned Democratic plaudits for her prosecutorial grilling of Trump aides and nominees in Senate Judiciary Committee hearings, but she quit the presidential race last year before the first primary after failing to gain enough support.

Republicans are wasting no time in trying to define the Oakland, California-born Democrat in negative terms, including her years as district attorney in San Francisco, and then as California's attorney general before she was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2016.


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