“Nobody wants to have that conversation, and as a result of not having that conversation, we’ve not dealt with it as an issue,” Harris said. “So, let’s speak that truth. It is real. Because guess what? Unless we say it even just that way, people will choose not to believe it is real.”
Her message clearly resonated with Ako Abdul-Samad, an Iowa state representative who attended three events with Harris on Monday. “She’ll bring an element of real talk that we need,” he said.
Harris’s whole manner and even just the tone of her voice are a constant Can you believe this? eye-roll. Fans love her because of how she zeroes in on weak spots, though former staffers and others who’ve dealt with her in private can sometimes get to tears talking about how withering she can be. She never makes a secret of who and what she doesn’t think much of.
So, Harris’s answer to how she’d be on the debate stage with Trump: as a prosecutor for president, a prosecutor of a president, who doesn’t have much patience for the people who parse the differences among the president’s lies and false claims and fabrications. “My mother used to have many sayings,” Harris said, “and one of them was, she’d say, ‘A man kills another man. Thousand reasons why that happened. The man is still dead.’ It’s still a lie.”
The title of the book she’s finishing up, out on January 8 to coincide with the campaign, is The Truths We Hold.
And she’ll be running, she and her team assume, in the shadow of the report Robert Mueller is expected to put out and whatever new indictments might be coming along with it.
Among the words Harris likes to use is bullshit, and so I tell her it sounds like she’s almost trying to make her campaign slogan, “Enough With This Bullshit 2020.”
She smiles, a little deviously.
“I really like that …” she says, letting the last word drag out.
Later she returns to the point. She doesn’t want to be cornered.
“It’s not for the sake of calling bullshit. That’s easy to do. One could argue that if it’s about calling bullshit, it’s about being a contrarian or even an obstructionist or a cynic, who can do all of that,” Harris says. “My point is that the discussion is a means to an end, and the end is to solve a problem. If we can’t agree on the premise, we’re not going to get to the point of solving a problem. It’s almost like establishing a premise—can we all agree we’re here? Let’s start here, so we can get to you on the next stage.”
Her first night in Iowa, Harris brought in 300 people to a Polk County Democrats event, or as the local Democratic chair Sean Bagniewski shouted excitedly to the volunteers backstage (as well as Harris’s husband, Doug Emhoff, whom he didn’t recognize, and apologized to later), “That’s a big fuckin’ crowd.”
“All good!” Emhoff responded on Twitter. “What a fantastic event.”