President Donald Trump and Republicans found difficulty in coming up with consistent attacks on former Vice President Joe Biden’s newly chosen running mate Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) on Tuesday – with the Trump campaign branding her as a “phony” who faked left-wing positions and who rightly called out Biden as “racist” during the primaries, and Trump casting her as a disciplined leftist whose attacks on Biden were “horrible.”
The Trump campaign immediately responded to the pick on Tuesday with an ad claiming Harris “ran for president by rushing to the radical left” but that Democratic voters “rejected Harris. They smartly spotted a phony,” with a text from the campaign branding her “Phony Kamala” and claiming Biden “isn’t smart enough to see her lies.”
But that line of attack was contradicted by Trump hours later at a briefing in which he cast Harris as a leftist through and through, asserting she is “very big into raising taxes and “in favor of socialized medicine,” declaring that Harris is “about the most liberal person in the U.S. Senate.”
Trump also called Harris’ comments about Biden in a Democratic debate in July – in which she confronted him about his stance on busing and work with segregationist senators – “very very nasty” and “disrespectful,” before tweeting an ad quoting those remarks as proof that Biden “has a racism problem.”
Trump appeared on Fox News’ Hannity later Tuesday, reiterating his belief that Harris said “horrible things” about Biden, which came after conservative host Sean Hannity expressed agreement with Harris’ remarks about the former vice president earlier in the program.
After the Trump campaign spokesperson Katrina Pierson accused Harris of trying to “bury her record as a prosecutor in order to appease the anti-police extremists controlling the Democrat Party,” the Republican Party sent out an email highlighting left-wing attacks on Harris’ prosecutorial record as overly aggressive.
“Liberals revolt against Biden, Harris ticket,” wrote GOP spokesperson Steve Guest, adding “the honeymoon is over,” and citing tweets from leftists who slammed Harris as a “top cop” and Biden as the author of the “Joe Biden crime bill.”
Pierson and Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) even contradicted each other in the same call with reporters. While Blackburn claimed Harris is “not going to be tough on hardened criminals,” Pierson attacked her “abysmal” record as a district attorney and state attorney general as overzealous. “She fought to keep inmates locked up in overcrowded prisons… she championed laws that put parents in jail for truancy and prosecuted the mentally ill,” Pierson claimed, stating “as an African-American woman, we welcome Kamala Harris to the race.”
“According to the Trump team: Biden is both the greatest debater ever to live and afraid of debating. Harris is both the most liberal Senator and alienating liberals,” tweeted Josh Schwerin, a strategist at PrioritiesUSA, a liberal super PAC. “The Trump team is really lost right now,” he added.
What To Watch For
The Trump campaign has scarce time to calibrate their attacks on Harris, though they had ample time to prepare. Trump settled on a consistent framing for Biden in June and July, casting him in dystopian attacks as a tool of the “radical left” who will “destroy your neighborhood” and lead to higher crime and lower economic prosperity. Despite all this, Biden maintains a commanding lead over Trump, suggesting even a consistent line of attack on Harris may fail to break through.