WASHINGTON (JTA) — In her first appearance on national TV as a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, California Sen. Kamala Harris lashed out at President Donald Trump for “fueling division,” including on anti-Semitism.
“Racism is real in America, sexism, anti-Semitism, transphobia, homophobia — these things exist in America,” Harris said Monday at a CNN town hall broadcast from Iowa, the first presidential nominating contest. “We have seen when Charlottesville and a woman was killed that we’ve had a president who basically said, well, there were equal sides to this,” she said, referring to the deadly August 2017 neo-Nazi march in Virginia, and Trump’s comments following it.
“We have seen what happened at the Tree of Life synagogue,” Harris said, referring to the massacre in October of 11 worshippers at a Pittsburgh synagogue complex.
“The vast majority of us have so much more in common than what separates us, and we need leadership in this country that recognizes that,” she said. “There’s a lot of work to do, and certainly it’s going to start with the top and not fueling the division we have seen.”
Harris formally launched her campaign over the weekend in Oakland, adopting the slogan, “America, we are better than this.” She is the daughter of an Indian mother and a Jamaican father, and her husband is Jewish.
The Pittsburgh shooting was carried out by a gunman who blamed a Jewish group, HIAS, for helping refugees resettle in the United States. While the Charlottesville protests were organized by a white supremacist group and dominated by neo-Nazis, anti-Semites and white supremacists, Trump insisted that there were “very fine people” who had joined the protests to defend a statue of Confederate general Robert E. Lee.