Kamala Harris reacts to Trump’s racist birther attacks: ‘They’re going to engage in lies’

EXCLUSIVE: In an interview with theGrio, Sen. Kamala Harris talks about the fight for the White House with Joe Biden, her record on policing, and why she has what it takes to help lead America.

Senator Kamala Harris‘ entire life changed over a Zoom call last Tuesday. Like many Americans, stuck at home during a pandemic, Harris was socially distancing in her D.C. apartment, when the call came to step into a historic leadership position.

“The vice president contacted me through Zoom, as is the way that we all meet in person these days. That’s when he asked me if I’d join him,” Harris tells theGrio in an exclusive interview on Saturday.

Biden would invite his wife Jill Biden into the call, and Harris would invite her husband Doug Emhoff to join as well. After confirming she was up for the challenge, Harris shared the news with the rest of her family. “It was very special,” she says with a smile.

Read More: Kamala Harris has a message for voters who aren’t feeling her and Joe Biden

From that instant, Harris was propelled at rocket-speed into campaign life again, this time with a mission to amplify the Biden-Harris team as the remedy for a torn America. She made a speaking appearance in Delaware, helped the Biden campaign raise $48 million in just 48 hours, and dodged racist and played out birther attacks from President Donald Trump.

“They’re going to engage in lies,” Harris tells theGrio. “They’re going to engage in deception. They’re going to engage in an attempt to distract from the real issues that are impacting the American people. And I expect that they will engage in dirty tactics. And this is going to be a knockdown, drag-out.”

Harris has no qualms about going toe to toe with Vice President Mike Pence or President Trump, who called her his “No. 1 pick for VP.”

Read More: Trump takes aim at Kamala Harris, calls her ‘nasty’ after VP announcement

“I am [ready] and Joe Biden is,” Harris tells theGrio. “What’s at stake right now is that we’ve had over 160,000 people die in the last few months and many of them needlessly … tens of millions of people who have lost their jobs … we’re in the midst of a hunger crisis in our country. The media isn’t covering it so much.”

Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee former Vice President Joe Biden and his running mate Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) arrive to deliver remarks at the Alexis Dupont High School on August 12, 2020 in Wilmington, Delaware. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

“I’m prepared to fight because this is a fight that is for something, not against something. This is a fight for where we need to be … We need to focus on what can be unburdened by what has been,” Harris continues.

But being unburdened by the past hasn’t always been possible for Sen. Harris in the face of scrutiny over her record as a prosecutor.

“I understand why people are distrustful of a system that historically has been unjust and unfair to them, I get that,” Harris tells theGrio. “That’s why I chose to become a prosecutor. I decided to go up the rough side of the mountain.”

Harris, however, insists she was more progressive than she is given credit for, and touts her recidivism program as a point of pride.

“I’m proud of the work that we were accomplishing, which was about one of the first in the nation reentry initiatives focusing on young men, mostly Black and Latino, who had been arrested for drugs and getting them jobs,” Harris explains.

Harris said her effort was mocked and called the “Hug A Thug Program,” by critics. “They would say to me, ‘What are you doing? You’re supposed to be putting people in jail, not letting them out,'” Harris recalls. “This was long before the beauty and the power of Black Lives Matter.”

The criminal justice reform future Harris wants to build with Biden includes eliminating cash bail, banning chokeholds, and having attorney generals take on pattern and practice investigations.

Kamala Harris thegrio.com
(AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

“George Floyd would be alive today if that were the case,” Harris tells theGrio. “If you look at my background, I’m probably best equipped to be a leader and a national leader in this administration on what we need to do to reform the system. 

Harris is intentional about naming other priorities for the Black community outside of criminal justice reform, including addressing record-low homeownership rates, supporting Black businesses, and forgiving student loans, which are disproportionately taken out by Black families.

Harris says she wants Black communities to be hyper-aware of attempts to suppress their votes. “You may not fall in love with who you’re voting for,” Harris tells theGrio. “We have to be heard and not let them stop us or prevent us or deter us from exercising our voices and making sure our voice is strong in this election.”

Watch the full conversation with Sen. Harris above and visit theGrio’s YouTube channel for more political updates.

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