U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris stood on a black plastic chair so she could see above the throng of supporters in Big Mike's Soul Food Restaurant and challenged America to be better.
No, pretense. No big army of security people or scurrying aides, Harris walked into the tiny "hole in the wall" restaurant through the kitchen because the parking lot out front was jammed with supporters hoping to get a glimpse of this California Democrat, a Black woman who is hoping for the chance to knock off President Trump in the 2020 election.
Slowly, she made her way through the should-to-shoulder crowd, signing autographs, posing for selfies, hugging people -- lots of hugs. "You all are showing what it means...to love our country and to fight," she said. "We love our country!"
Speaking on International Women’s Day, Harris told the crowd that she and her sister were raised by a mother who was only five feet tall, but “you would have thought she was seven feet tall.” And when they complained, her mother would say, “So what are you going to do about it?”
“Well, I’m running for President of the United States,” she declared to cheers and applause.
“What we need to do is restore opportunities for all in our country,” Harris said, calling for a tax credit of up to $500 monthly for families that earn $100,000 per year or less. That, she said, would “lift up one in two families in America and…two of every three children in America.”
Sen. Harris said the Trump presidency has been filled with broken promises.
After promising to close the federal deficit, said Harris, “He gave us a tax bill with a $1 trillion deficit that benefits the top one percent and the big corporations. And he wants us to foot the bill for his multi-billion dollar vanity project called ‘the wall’.”
In answer to questions, Harris said:
The 47-month sentence handed down to Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort Thursday demonstrates that the criminal justice system is broken, noting that a “young man in Mississippi who had weed in his car got a sentence of 12 years.” She said “people who commit white collar crimes should bring their toothbrush and be prepared to spend as much time in jail as anybody else. Everyone needs to be treated equally.”
The Trump administration’s anti-environmental policies are dangerous. “Climate change is happening and it is a fact that human behavior is contributing to it.
Federal policy should support increased affordable housing and said she has proposed tax credits to help.
Offshore drilling “is all about our reliance on fossil fuel. We are damaging the earth. We need new leadership.”
Sen. Harris said her candidacy was about far more than simply criticizing the Trump administration.
“It’s about having a vision where we can be unburdened by where we have been. Let’s understand what’s happening right now and know that when we show up, it can change.”
“We love our country and are prepared to fight for it,” declared Harris. “This is not only about defeating this guy who is in the White House, but fighting for a vision of America where everyone can see themselves.”
A small band of Trump supporters wearing MAGA hats arrived across the street from Big Mike's and waited for the senator to arrive. While they attracted some media attention, they largely dispersed before Harris emerged from inside to greet the outside crowd.
“We need a new president,” she said.