Read: Kamala Harris’s Trump-size tax plan
“Expectations are being set sky high—a year is a long time to hit them,” said an adviser to another 2020 Democrat.
During her speech on Sunday, the people who turned out chanted her name and seemed filled with energy and real enthusiasm. She’s already a big enough deal that both her husband and her sister got cheers as they slipped into the crowd. She had to pause for only a moment as she said, about halfway through, “And so I stand before you today …” for her fans to fill in the next words about declaring her candidacy. She made a point of having a good time, pausing and holding an amused smile, after she dropped a line about “foreign powers infecting the White House like malware.”
Drawing heavily on parts of speeches she’s been working out on the stump for months, Harris talked repeatedly about “our America.” She went back again and again to ideas of common values and shared reality that she seems insistent on repeating precisely to emphasize that they can’t, and shouldn’t be, ignored.
“We are at an inflection point in the history of our world. We are at an inflection point in the history of our nation,” she said.
There was a long list of goals, from battling climate change and achieving pay equity for women to enhancing cybersecurity, instituting universal pre-K and Medicare for All as a health-insurance option, stopping school shootings, ensuring reproductive rights, creating a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants, and passing working- and middle-class tax cuts, though she left an explanation for how she’d get any of it done for another time.
And while her prospective opponents are eager to make her the establishment candidate in the race, Harris spoke of herself as the underdog, though no one really sees her that way.
“The doubters will say what they always say: It’s not your time. The odds are long. It can’t be done. But our story has never been written by the doubters or the naysayers,” she said. “Robert Kennedy said it best: ‘Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.’”
Harris has so far lived up to their internal estimations, said an adviser to yet another 2020 Democrat. “I am not unimpressed. I am not overly impressed,” the adviser said. “The fundamentals are there, but the question is if it can be taken to the next level.”
Is it intimidating at all? I texted one of the people advising another 2020 Democrat about an hour before the rally started, with the helicopter counting the crowd already overhead and the Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir onstage, warming up the crowd.
“Lol,” the adviser immediately wrote back to me.
Keep thinking that, say the people working with Harris. That just gives her more time to build up the lead.
“This was a spectacular, electric, and unprecedented crowd,” said Sean Clegg, who helped her write the speech and sat backstage watching favorite moments unfold, “and it demonstrates the hunger for her candidacy, and for someone who can fight and lead from the high ground.”