California Senator and 2020 Democratic presidential hopeful Kamala Harris received the popular question asking if she thinks President Donald Trump is a white supremacist, the same question fielded by several other 2020 candidates in recent days.
But instead of jumping on the bandwagon, Harris had a much different take on the issue of racism and hate — a topic that quickly jumped to the forefront in the aftermath of the racially-motivated El Paso, Texas mass shooting last weekend.
“Let me tell you the concern I have with that question,” Harris told a reporter.
“It begins and ends with the question and then the answer to that, as opposed to recognizing the long history in the United States of this as an issue. The issue of hate.”
According to Newsweek, Harris’ answer to the question came as she spoke on Saturday on the Des Moines Register’s Political Soapbox stage — a popular platform for presidential candidates at the Iowa State Fair, leading up to an election year.
Doubling down, Harris further explained that hate has a long history in America and she refused to make Trump the key figure in the conversation about the topic.
“I will not participate in a conversation that simplifies this issue without recognizing one – the history, speaking the truth about it and recognizing it happened before [Trump] was in the White House and it will continue after this guy in the White House,” Harris said.
Asked if Trump is a white supremacist, @KamalaHarris says he is “fanning the flames of hate” but says she won’t answer the question without talking about the history of hate broadly in this country @IowaStateFair pic.twitter.com/qXaHw62kPY— Tal Kopan (@TalKopan) August 10, 2019
The California senator did, however, criticize the Trump administration for cutting off funding for programs aimed at fighting domestic terrorism and assured her supporters that should she win the presidency, she would restore them.
The Trump administration had approved a number of grants for the programs in 2017, but they run on two-year terms and the Trump administration failed to seek renewal of the programs when they expired in July 2019.
According to CBS News, the massacre in El Paso, which left 22 dead and scores more wounded, is being prosecuted as a domestic terrorist attack. U.S. Attorney John Bash said they will also treat the incident as a civil rights hate crime, as well as pursuing a criminal investigation.
The 21-year-old alleged shooter, Patrick Crusius, admitted to police that his attack was meant to target Mexicans after confessing to being the shooter, though he told police that held those views before Trump was elected to the White House and that anyone placing blame on Trump for the shooting was doing so mistakenly.