Give Kamala Harris credit for a keen sense of timing.
Within the first 20 minutes, night two of the first Democratic presidential-primary debates had descended into the circus that many in the party had feared: a cacophony of unintelligible noise, as 10 candidates crammed onto a single stage all tried to talk over one another, gesturing to the moderators, desperate for a chance to speak, to attack, to shine.
The moderator Jose Diaz-Balart made clear that it was Harris’s turn to speak. “Hey guys, you know what?” the senator from California said, as everyone onstage quieted down and turned to her. “America does not want to witness a food fight; they want to know how we’re going to put food on their table.”
The audience erupted in cheers, and Harris quickly pivoted to a pointed criticism of President Donald Trump. She mocked his heralding of “my great economy,” arguing that the standards the president uses—the stock market, a low unemployment rate—do not apply to millions of struggling Americans. “He talks about the stock market. Well, that’s fine if you own stocks. So many families in America do not,” Harris said. “They point to the jobless numbers and the unemployment numbers. Well, yeah, people in America are working, but they’re working two and three jobs. Well, let’s be clear: In our America, no one should have to work more than one job to have a roof over their head and food on their table!”