In the 2016 election, candidate Donald Trump barely alluded to Democratic vice presidential candidate Tim Kaine, but four years later, the president is aiming much of his artillery against Kamala Harris.
Trump said this week that “no one wants her,” applying a pattern of sympathy that applies far more to women in leadership positions than to men.
He told voters in North Carolina that it would be “an insult to our country” if Harris were the first president. Additionally, Trump and her allies are bent on mispronouncing Harris’s name, which her supporters say is a deliberate effort to portray the daughter of immigrants as unworthy of being in the front row of politics.RELATED
Trump is targeting Harris because he has trouble mounting a coherent attack on presidential candidate Joe Biden, who has a reputation for making cross-party deals rather than progressive ideologue. Additionally, the racism and sexism that underpin Trump’s criticism of the first black woman of Asian descent in the presidential formula of one of the traditional parties are part of an aggressive strategy to win votes in the white middle class.
For his part, Harris has harshly criticized Trump, but concentrating on his performance as president. At a campaign rally in Miami on Thursday, he called Trump “irresponsible” for downplaying the effects of the coronavirus while privately calling it a “lethal thing.”
Tim Murtaugh, Trump’s campaign communications director, stated that Biden, not Harris, would be the primary target, but repeated the argument that Harris was one of the extremist forces running the candidate.
“Kamala Harris and her voting record (in the Senate) help substantiate the arguments against Joe Biden,” Murtaugh said.
That strategy could bring risks to Trump. Black voters overwhelmingly support Biden and a sustained criticism of Harris could fuel their enthusiasm to go to the polls in November and tip the outcome in crucial states like North Carolina, Florida, Pennsylvania and Michigan.
A Harris spokeswoman excused herself from responding to Trump’s most recent attacks.
It is also unusual for a president to attack his opponent’s formula companion. But the bottom line is that the attempt to characterize Harris as a left-wing extremist does not match her trajectory.
Certain elements of the progressive left have never sympathized with Harris due to his career as a California attorney and attorney general. When Biden put her on their ballot in August, Republicans called her both a rabid prosecutor trying to hide her crime-fighting past and an overly lenient person with criminals.
Like Biden, Harris has expressed relatively moderate positions on issues like health insurance and law enforcement. She was a sponsor of Senator Bernie Sanders’ bill to extend Medicare insurance to everyone, which the Trump campaign says is proof of her leftist tendencies, but later tempered her position.
And in the absence of a clear message, Trump has resorted to his usual tactic of sexist and racist attacks.
“Do you know who’s to Mad Bernie’s left? Kamala, Kamala, Kamala, ”Trump said at a rally in North Carolina, stretching out every syllable in his name.
Against his female opponents, especially women of color, Trump has used disparaging terms, questioning their patriotism or calling them “vile” or “furious.”
He criticized Harris’s “vileness” in his questioning of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh during confirmation hearings.
By elevating and trying to define Harris, the Trump campaign is trying to change voters’ view of Biden, said Christopher Davie, a political science professor and author of a book on vice presidential candidates.
“Obviously (Trump) believes that he cannot demonize Joe Biden effectively,” Devine said. “That’s why they have this argument that he will be a Trojan horse, a vehicle for the elements of the extreme left to occupy everything and try to introduce Kamala Harris in that role.”