Tulsi Gabbard rips Kamala Harris on her record as California prosecutor during second debate
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, continued her recent attacks on Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., during Wednesday's Democratic debate, delving into her history of prosecuting drug crimes and other offenses as California's attorney general.
"Sen. Harris says she's proud of her record as a prosecutor and that she'll be a prosecutor president, but I'm deeply concerned about this record," Gabbard said.
"There are too many examples to cite but she put over 1,500 people in jail for marijuana violations and then laughed about it when she was asked if she ever smoked marijuana."
She also blasted Harris for maintaining the cash bail system which, she argued, disproportionately hurt poor people. Gabbard accused Harris of keeping prisoners beyond their sentence in order to use them as "cheap labor" as well as blocking evidence that would have "freed an innocent man from death row."
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Harris responded by claiming that she has consistently fought against the death penalty throughout her career and favored legalizing marijuana. "As elected attorney general of California, I did the work of significantly reforming the criminal justice system of a state of 40 million people -- which became a national model for the work that needs to be done," she also said.
"The bottom line is, Senator Harris, when you were in a position to make a difference and impact in these people's lives, you did not," Gabbard responded.
Harris notably declined to pursue the death penalty against a man who murdered a police officer, something that was reportedly unheard of in the state at the time, and although Harris opposed the death penalty early in her career, she also defended California's use of it when a federal judge ruled it was unconstitutional.
Gabbard, earlier in the debate, called out Harris over her newly-unveiled health care plan. Harris was wrong, Gabbard suggested, to tout support from former Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius who, according to Gabbard, represented big business's influence on health care legislation.
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Gabbard's attacks came as she struggled to reach the upper echelons of polling among her 2020 contenders. During an interview from July, Gabbard reportedly claimed that Harris lacked the "temperament" to be president.
"She's got no background or experience in foreign policy and she lacks the temperament that is necessary for the commander-in-chief," Gabbard said, citing her experience in the military.
This wasn't the first time Harris faced criticism over her actions as a prosecutor. She also came under scrutiny for supporting an anti-truancy law in California.
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In an interview published in April, she said she regretted the "unintended consequences" of that policy.
“My regret is that I have now heard stories where in some jurisdictions, [District Attorneys] have criminalized the parents. And I regret that that has happened,” she said.