On Friday, the campaign of presidential candidate Kamala Harris announced the senator will skip a forum on criminal justice reform in South Carolina this weekend. Her reason for that decision was the equivalent of an adult woman throwing a toddler-style temper tantrum. She is angry that the organization holding the weekend forum honored President Trump with an award Friday.
It is really as simple as that. Kamala Harris, a sitting U.S. senator was so triggered by the decision to honor the President of the United States by black folks in South Carolina that she is taking the low road. She is disrespectfully dishonoring her acceptance of the invitation to participate in the forum at Benedict College, a historically black college. Is she not familiar with the fact that good manners are very important in the south? Backing out at the last minute because a bipartisan collegiate group acted in a bipartisan manner and acknowledged Trump’s leadership in criminal justice reform legislation is not a good look. Friday’s event with the president was sponsored by the 20/20 Bipartisan Justice Center. Bipartisan is in the name, for heaven’s sake.
“As the only candidate who attended an HBCU, I know the importance that these spaces hold for young Black Americans,” Harris, who was slated to participate in Second Step Presidential Justice Forum at Benedict College on Saturday, said in a statement.
The California senator cited the fact that only a limited number of students from the school were allowed to attend Trump’s remarks as the final straw.
“Today, when it became clear Donald Trump would receive an award after decades of celebrating mass incarceration, pushing the death penalty for innocent Black Americans, rolling back police accountability measures and racist behavior that puts people’s lives at risk, and then learned all but ten Benedict students are excluded from participating, I cannot in good faith be complicit in papering over his record,” Harris said.
Harris, the candidate of Indian and Jamaican heritage who frequently plays the race card, trashed the president without offering up any proof of her allegations. That’s common with lazy candidates who just repeat basic talking points on the campaign trail but it is insulting to the people who decided to honor the president. She is calling them “complicit in papering over his record” and she, the moral better, will not do that. The bad Orange Man is a racist, you know.
Is Harris’ reference to “pushing the death penalty for innocent Black Americans” a reference to the Central Park Five case? It’s made a comeback during the Trump presidency and I wrote about the Netflix version of the story for NewsBusters this year. In that piece, there is a quote from one of the mothers – “They need to keep that bigot off tv, is what they need to do,” the mother angrily responds. “That devil wants to kill my son.” “That devil” references private citizen Donald Trump who was being interviewed by a New York reporter. Trump paid for a full-page ad that ran in several newspapers at the time which called for the return of the death penalty. He was referencing the rise in crime the city was experiencing. The Netflix version conveniently twists it to the disadvantage of Trump. The teens wouldn’t have been eligible for the death penalty because they were minors at the time of the crime.
Kamala Harris has won this award herself. That’s the kicker. She has no reason to be bitter, she’s already been given the same award, as has the junior senator from South Carolina, Tim Scott. It looks like she’s petty and vindictive. Not all of America buys into the trope that Donald Trump is a racist. Is she just looking for publicity for a failing campaign? According to Real Clear Politics, as I write this Saturday morning, Harris is at 7% in South Carolina. That’s fourth-place behind Biden, Warren, and Sanders. Biden has a 19.5% lead.
If the concern of Harris is the number of students allowed to attend, well, a local newspaper reports that half of the tickets were reserved for Trump and half for locals. Ten spots were reserved for students of the college. Remember, the event was to honor the president – not a student or professor or a local leader in the community. The theatre in which the event was held has a capacity of 275 people and it is reported to have been packed.
Harris is taking her campaign and moving on. She said she plans to hold a roundtable discussion on criminal justice elsewhere in the state. Maybe she doesn’t understand how badly this reflects on her character and her ability to lead an entire nation, not just those who think as she does. How can she be the president of all Americans if she can’t handle a decision made by a bipartisan group of people to give an award to someone she dislikes?
Trump’s interest in criminal justice reform puts a pin in the argument that partisans like Kamala Harris like to advance – if they aren’t saying Trump is a liar, they are saying he is a racist. The fact is that Trump treats everyone the same whether she likes it or not. No one is out of bounds from a Trump attack. Or from Trump’s praises. Trump was honored by African-Americans when he was a private citizen and when he was a reality show star. Trump’s support of law and order is not new. He can claim ownership of signing into law some criminal justice reform and it’s a thorn in Kamala’s side. Trump signed into law bipartisan legislation that included easing harsh minimum sentences for nonviolent drug offenders, as well as other changes.
President Trump responded on Twitter:
Many of Kamala’s competitors will participate in the forum over the course of the weekend.
Other Democratic presidential candidates still taking part in the forum at Benedict over the next two days are former Rep. John Delaney, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, former Vice President Joe Biden, former Housing Secretary Julian Castro, South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Sens. Cory Booker of New Jersey, Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.
The South Carolina primary is February 29.