Senator Kamala Harris (D-Calif) announced her candidacy for president this morning on ABC’s Good Morning America, saying she chose the day that America honors the life of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., to announce because of all that the Civil Rights leader has meant to her family and our nation.

“I love my country. I love my country. And this is a moment in time that I feel a responsibility to stand up and fight for the best of who we are,” Harris said.

“My parents were very active in the Civil Rights Movement. It was about a belief that we are a country that was founded on a noble idea. (Dr. King) was aspirational like our country is aspirational,” Harris added. “We know that we have not yet reached those ideals, but our strength is that we fight until we reach those ideals. Yes, so today, the day that we celebrate Dr. King, is a very special day … and I’m honored to make my announcement on this day.”

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Harris made the announcement at 7:30 a.m. in an interview with Robin Roberts and George Stephanopoulos, while simultaneously posting a teaser video on her social media pages announcing the theme of her candidacy: “For The People.” She will officially launch her campaign at a rally in Oakland on Sunday, Jan. 27, where she will deliver a speech that explains in more detail her reasons for running, what she learned from a career in public service and her vision for America.

Harris is entering an already crowded field of Democratic hopefuls but she said what sets her apart is her 20 years of experience as a career prosecutor that gives her a unique background and understanding of federal, state and local government and law enforcement issues.

“My entire career has been focused on keeping people safe. It is probably one of the things that motivates me more than anything else,” Harris said.

Some of Harris’ key campaign fights will be speaking up on behalf of sexual assault survivors, advocating for homeowners defrauded by big banks and students preyed upon by for-profit colleges, Harris said. Other priorities, according to Harris’ staff, include:

  • Addressing the escalating cost of living. If elected president, Harris said she would enact the “largest middle-class tax cut in history — giving families making under $100,000 a significant tax break in the form of monthly credits of up to $500.” She would also address increasing housing costs with her Rent Relief Act, which the campaign says would be “the first major government response to the country’s growing affordability crisis,” and would keep to Harris’ decision as California Attorney General to stand up to the big banks and sue them for the damage inflicted upon her constituents during the mortgage crisis — a fight she won when the banks gave $20 billion back to California homeowners.
  • Immigration and criminal justice reform. Harris introduced a bipartisan bail reform bill in the Senate that she said would confront mass incarceration and discrimination in the justice system. Her bill was endorsed by the NAACP, ACLU, National Urban League and Color of Change. She also supports sensible immigration reform. As the daughter of an Indian mom and Jamaican father, Harris said we must return to being a nation that welcomes immigrant communities because they make us stronger.
  • Improving quality of life. This includes paying achieving public school teachers well to providing accessible, affordable higher education and training, to Medicare for All. As Attorney General, her campaign said Harris sued for-profit colleges whose fraudulent and predatory practices were hurting young people, veterans, and other vulnerable communities — and she won. In the Senate, Harris has focused on reducing racial disparities in health outcomes including maternal mortality, where black women are 3-4 times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than women of other races. She introduced the Maternal CARE Act to confront this “implicit bias in health care and undo the shocking statistic,” according to the Harris campaign.
  • Making America Respected Again. Harris said she will reject corporate PAC money and super PAC activity and will return leadership with honesty and moral character to the White House. 

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On Friday, Harris will travel to Columbia, South Carolina to speak at the Pink Ice Gala, a major event sponsored by the local Gamma Nu Omega chapter of the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority, which Harris pledged during her undergraduate years at Howard University. Speaking to Americans over the past few weeks, Harris said they commonly bring up the economy and tell her they are struggling to make ends meet.“Those folks don’t want a wall, they want a paycheck,” Harris said. “As leaders, we have to be able to give them some certainty that we understand. Nobody is going to work for free. Why do we expect them to work for free?”

“People want to know that their leaders, particularly their president, sees them and understands their needs,” she added.

Harris also told Good Morning America that people have the wrong idea when they think that certain communities are against law enforcement.

“I think it is a false choice to suggest that communities don’t want law enforcement. Most communities do – they don’t want excessive force, they don’t want racial profiling, but nobody wants that,” she said. “People want to know that our laws are being enforced.” They don’t want to have to “sit their son down when he becomes a teenager to tell him he can be arrested and shot because of the color of his skin” instead they want law enforcement “that is fair and without bias.”