Kamala Harris kicks off presidential run slamming Trump policies, pushing 'Medicare for All'

Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., formally launched her run for the Democratic presidential nomination Sunday with a full-fledged embrace of big government programs, including "Medicare for All" and universal pre-kindergarten education -- and taking multiple shots at President Trump's policies.

"I'm running to fight for an America where the economy works for working people," Harris told a cheering crowd outside City Hall in her hometown of Oakland. " ... I am running to declare, once and for all, that health care is a fundamental right, and to deliver that right with 'Medicare for All.' To declare education is a fundamental right, and we will guarantee that right with universal pre-K and debt-free college."

Harris slammed President Trump's planned border wall as "a medieval vanity project" and criticized the administration for its hardline immigration policy.

"When we have children in cages, crying for their mothers and fathers, don't you dare call that border security, that's human rights abuse," Harris said.

Harris also pledged to reverse the administration's tax cuts, which she described as a "giveaway to the top big corporations and the top one percent," to pay for what she promised would be "the largest working and middle-class tax cut in a generation, up to $500 a month to help America's families make ends meet."

Harris cast the United States as being at "an inflection point" in its history and claimed, "the American Dream and our American democracy are under attack and on the line like never before."


"We are here at this moment in time because we must answer a fundamental question," Harris said. "Who are we? Who are we as Americans? So, let’s answer that question to the world and each other, right here and right now.

"America, we are better than this."

"People in power are trying to convince us that the villain in our American story is each other," she added. "But that is not our story. That is not who we are. That’s not our America. You see, our United States of America is not about us versus them. It’s about 'We the People.'"

Harris, the daughter of immigrants from Jamaica and India, started her political career in 2003 when she was elected San Francisco district attorney. She was voted attorney general of California seven years later and was elected to the Senate in 2016.

"My whole life, I've only had one client: the people," Harris said in an echo of her campaign slogan "For the People." She also defended her record as a prosecutor, which has come under scrutiny from some progressives.


"'For the People' meant fighting for a more fair criminal justice system. At a time when prevention and redemption were not in the vocabulary or mindset of most district attorneys, we created an initiative to give skills and job training stead of jail time for young people arrested for drugs," said Harris, who added that American's criminal justice system "needs drastic repair."

"It’s fitting that Harris chose the most liberal district in deep-blue California to launch her campaign," Republican National Committee spokesman Michael Ahrens said in response to her remarks. "Government-run health care, weaker borders and higher taxes might be popular there, but her liberal policies are totally out-of-step with most Americans. President Trump has led this country to record economic highs and strengthened our national security, and it’s why he’s going to be re-elected in 2020."

Harris is among the first major Democrats to jump into what is expected to be a crowded 2020 presidential contest. Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York have announced exploratory committees. Former Maryland Rep. John Delaney and Julian Castro, federal housing chief under President Barack Obama and a former San Antonio mayor, already are in the race.


Sens. Cory Booker of New Jersey, Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Bernie Sanders of Vermont have signaled they may also run.

Harris was scheduled to make her first trip to Iowa as a presidential candidate following the rally. She traveled to the leadoff caucus state in the weeks before this past November's midterm elections to campaign on behalf of Democrats. She has also visited other early-voting states, including South Carolina this past Friday.

Fox News' Patrick Ward and The Associated Press contributed to this report.