"They're going to engage in lies, they're going to engage in deception," Harris told The Grio

By Sean Neumann
August 19, 2020 08:05 PM
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Ahead of Sen. Kamala Harris' historic nomination as the Democratic Party's vice presidential pick on Wednesday night, the California lawmaker called out the "dirty tactics" of the President Donald Trump and his re-election campaign.

Harris, a 55-year-old former prosecutor-turned-politician, will become the first Black woman and person of Asian descent to be nominated for either major party's presidential ticket. She will accept the nomination on Wednesday night, the third night of the virtual Democratic National Convention.

In the week since Joe Biden named her as his running mate, however, Harris has had to swat away a false and racist claim — promoted by Trump and his campaign — that suggested she isn't qualified to become vice president because of who her parents are.

Harris, who is the child of a Jamaican father and Indian mother, was born in California on Oct. 20, 1964.

Trump, 74, stoked interest in the theory — which echoes his "birther" attacks on former President Barack Obama — when he was asked about a Newsweek opinion column by law professor John Eastman, who raised questions about Harris' birthplace in his now-amended op-ed that pivoted on how to interpret a phrase in the 14th Amendment of the Constitution.

"I heard today that she doesn't meet the requirements," Trump said, referencing the editorial. (Newsweek's editors have since apologized and added disclaimers to the opinion piece on their website.)

Trump's re-election campaign's senior legal adviser Jenna Ellis had also shared the article on social media.

Harris responded on Sunday during an interview with The Grio.

California Sen. Kamala Harris
| Credit: Alexander Drago-Pool/Getty

"They're going to engage in lies, they're going to engage in deception, they’re going to engage in an attempt to distract from the real issues that are impacting the American people," Harris said. "And I expect they will engage in dirty tactics and this is going to be a knock-down, drag-out and we're ready."

Biden campaign senior adviser Symone Sanders separately tweeted, "This is what racism sounds like" in response to the president's quote repeating the theory.

The Trump campaign has since said they are not actually questioning Harris' qualification.

Trump built his political profile in part by pushing a similar conspiratorial claim about President Obama's true birthplace during Obama's time in office.

Trump has continued to stoke racial division during his own presidency — perhaps most famously in the wake of an extremist "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017 — and has a history of swiping at opponents who are people of color.

Last year, he said four congresswomen of color should "go back" to their "crime-infested" home countries despite three of them being born in the U.S.

President Donald Trump
| Credit: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Most recently, when civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis — a Trump critic — died in July and had his body laid in state at the Capitol, Trump did not make the two-mile trip to participate in the memorial. He was also conspicuously absent at Lewis' funeral in Atlanta, which was attended by three former presidents.

When asked during an Axios interview what Lewis' legacy will be, Trump said: “I don’t know. I don’t know John Lewis."

Asked about whether he found Lewis impressive, Trump visibly paused.

"Uh — I can’t say one way or the other," he replied. "I find a lot of people impressive, I find many people not impressive."