Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., speaks during a town hall for the American Federation of Teachers in Detroit, Monday, May 6, 2019. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Well, it finally happened. Kamala Harris has officially dropped out of the presidential race. In a letter to supporters early Tuesday, Harris explained she had looked at the situation from “all angles” and could not see a viable way forward. It was a move many expected in recent weeks, but months ago when Harris first announced her candidacy it was inconceivable that this moment would come so soon, if at all. The California senator was an early favorite to win lead the pack. Many thought she could win it all.
Except me. I never thought that and I always found it perplexing when Republicans and right-wingers would tell me they feared she was one of the few candidates who could actually give Trump a run for his money. I knew better, and said so to the surprise (and sometimes scoffing) of others. I can tell you the exact moment I knew Kamala Harris would run for President…and I can tell you the exact moment I knew she’d lose. In fact, they were the same moment.
The second Senator Harris opened her mouth to speak at the Kavanaugh hearings I knew for sure she was planning a run. The next second I knew for sure she would lose. As she launched into her question/campaign speech, looking down her nose at a man who had done nothing wrong but have the bad luck to be appointed by Big Bad Orange Man, reveling in her camera-ready, nasally righteous indignation I suddenly realized who I was looking at…
Hillary Clinton with a tan.
We don’t need to rehash Clinton’s disastrous campaign, but suffice to say a huge reason for her loss was that she just wasn’t likable. Some women complain that societal expectations make it such that any woman who is even slightly confident or aggressive is labeled a “bitch”. There is some truth to that, but not for Hillary and certainly not for Kamala. Hillary’s actions earned her the sentiment. She was so sure of a win Wisconsin that she did not set even one foot in the state her entire campaign. She barely did much better for Michigan. Nothing says, “I despise flyover country rubes” like assuming their vote and then not even making a pit stop to say thank you on the way back to the east coast.
Clinton came off as a bitch and America didn’t like that. I knew Kamala Harris had that same problem. She hid it fairly well at the beginning of her campaign. It was amusing to see her on stage at events, laughing, chatting it up with hosts, slipping into the vernacular from time to time – “Dude gotta go!”- even taking a stab at some awkward cursing. It all seemed like she was trying too hard, but even people on the Right felt her “cool mom” routine might be getting through.
I never did. My husband likens her to a high school vice-principal – someone with very little power but who craves both approval and authority so roams the hallways trying to be BFFs with every kid even as she hands out detention slips. I think that is an apt description and I saw it in her almost right away. If The Most Qualified Candidate In History™ couldn’t figure out the likability problem, I knew there was no way Harris could sustain her “cool mom” candidacy. Voters very soundly rejected one coastal snob and not much has changed since 2016 other than Trump’s steadily upward approval polls.
Another part of the equation is that few people outside of California know that she is not that popular here. Oh sure, she won…but anyone who puts a (D) by their name in this state is going to win. It’s barely even worth having elections here anymore. She was a default vote, but that doesn’t mean people like her. In fact, if you talk to both liberals and conservatives here, you’ll hear a lot of people on both sides express their distaste for her personality. I found it shocking that so many “woke” lefties so openly described her as sleeping her way to the top (via an affair with legendary California politician Willie Brown). The animosity towards Harris runs deep on both sides of the political divide in this state.
And then there is the “person of color” badge she was running with. Some conservatives felt she might pull a large portion of the much-hailed black vote, but the truth is even amongst black voters she was not a sure thing. When Obama was endorsing her senate run it seemed like they were a little too flirty on the trail. We didn’t like that, because at the end of the day Michelle is everything and anyone who tries to come for her man is garbage. It’s anecdotal, but it is definitely something I was noticing talking with my black family and friends.
In the end, Harris was simply a victim of herself. She could not escape her own elite snobbery. One always got the sense she’d be Hillary 2.0, waving to the red states as she flew over them in her private jet on her way to a fundraiser in Manhattan. And to be fair, perhaps that is not who she is at all. Perhaps the real Kamala Harris is much more kind, enjoyable and engaging. I’ve been doing this job long enough to know that what you see on stage and who people are backstage are often two very different things.
I’m willing to give her that benefit of the doubt, but clearly voters are not. So I’ll end with what I’ve been saying since the beginning of her doomed run: