Kamala Harris: People Don't Want Democrats To Wait Until 2020 To Help Them


California Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris joins MSNBC's Al Sharpton to deny she is running for president in 2020 and talk about the future of the Democratic Party:

"They don’t want us to wait until 2020 to figure out and solve some of the problems they’re experiencing," she said. "I think have to be focused on what we need to do right now, and that includes focusing on the 2018 election cycle."

AL SHARPTON: Senator Harris, thank you for being with us this morning. You spoke at National Action Network’s convention about how we have to reflect on the past but really face the challenges of today. And you’ve coined a phrase about coalitions.

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D), CALIFORNIA: Yes. Coalition strong.

SHARPTON: Talk -- explain to people -- coalition strong.

HARRIS: Coalition strong. You know, I mean my parents met when they were active in the civil rights movement of the ‘60s. And my memories of that time and -- and of the discussion about that time that they had was -- included that there was a coalition of people who seemingly had nothing in common but had everything in common. And as we know, the civil rights movement has always been at it’s strongest when people understand that each person’s civil rights is a matter of everyone’s civil rights.

And so the importance of bringing people together to march, to talk, to shout, to speak in unison about our collective interests and making sure that each one is treated equally I think is so important. And the coalition just makes it better. And it makes us stronger.

SHARPTON: As you have been going around the country and -- and you were just in Michigan. They tell that you drew more people than the Democratic caucus there usually gets in these events. Do you see a real energy of people around the midterms? What does the Democrats need to do to win the House and the Senate?

HARRIS: You know, so I -- I think those are two points that you’re making which are equally relevant and maybe to the uniqueness of this time. There’s the Democratic party piece but there’s also the people piece. People are self-selecting. So the beauty of what’s happening is that people aren’t waiting for the Democratic party to -- to touch them on the shoulder.

In fact, they’re -- if anything -- touching the Democratic party on the shoulder. And saying you need to see me and hear me and speak for me with courage and with action. And so people are self-selecting. We see that from the Women’s March, the March for Our Lives, the March for Science. Right? People are showing up who have never been a part because they are figuring out if their -- if their interests are going to be reflected in policy and in -- in -- in law, then they’ve got to be out there to be heard.

And so there’s that happening. The Democratic party, I think, is seeing it. And certainly encouraging it but is also, I think, energized about all these new voices and is being required to actually listen to people where they are.

SHARPTON: You being talking about meaning to run in 2020. And you’ve said you have not made that commitment. Vice President Biden was on with me last Sunday, said he was thinking about it. Senator Warren and others have been here. What would make Kamala Harris say yes, I’m going to do this?

HARRIS: Well, I can’t even get to that question until we deal with some of the stuff that’s right in front of us, Rev. I mean, you know, it’s -- it’s great and I know the -- you know, people like to think about that and -- because I think people think about that being the highest office in the land and so that’s the most interesting for a lot of people.

But the offices that truly make a difference every day include these congressional offices, include these Senate offices, and right now we’ve got a lot of people up in 2018 in November, just 200 days from now, and we’ve got to make sure that we do the right thing with those elections, because each day in the life of the American people is a very long time.

Each day in the life of the American people that they are struggling to put gas in their car, struggling to get that rent paid by the end of the month, to pay off their student loans, each day is a very long time.

They don’t want us to wait until 2020 to figure out and solve some of the problems they’re experiencing. They want that to happen now, and people in a position of leadership, if they’re really leaders, I think have to be focused on what we need to do right now, and that includes focusing on the 2018 election cycle.

SHARPTON: You have a unique background of having been a state attorney general or (ph) prosecutor, and then on in -- and have had to balance between criminal justice issues like mass incarceration, like police community, which would give you a unique place if you were to run to be president, because you have lectured law enforcement about being more responsive, but then you’ve lectured people like me about understanding police have their lives out there everyday.

And is it that balance that you are trying to get into the public to discuss, because I -- I -- I was told by the family of Stephon Clarke that you recently did a town hall in Sacramento, where you struck that balance. Says (ph) wait a minute, I don’t understand why an unarmed young man is dead, but I don’t think all cops are bad, so let’s -- let’s deal with this in a balanced way.

Justice is balance, I think you said, not taking sides.

HARRIS: That’s exactly right, that’s exactly right, and not accepting a false choice (ph). Listen, I know based on my experience that every time a police officer leaves their home going to their shift, their family will say a silent or -- or not silent prayer that they return at the end of their shift.

I know that every black man, be he a relative or a colleague, has experienced some kind of situation where they have been profiled or unreasonably shocked (ph). I know that we have a duty to create and -- and always pay attention to the need to -- to eliminate bias in terms of the way that any of us think and make our decisions, and in particular, those who are in positions of power.

I know that we need to have a system of justice that includes that when people -- one human being kills another human being, or a woman is raped, or a child is molested, there needs to be serious and severe and swift consequence.

I know all these things to be true. All of these things are true, they all coexist.

SHARPTON: What and when will you make a final decision, after we see what happens in ’18?

HARRIS: Certainly after this interview, not before.

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