In night two of the Democratic debate, candidates bore down into issues, and each other. Kamala Harris went after Joe Biden for his past on busing.
WASHINGTONÂ â€“ Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif.,Â had a campaign-defining momentÂ last week during the first Democratic primary debate that has ledÂ to a jump in polls. Harris’ sudden surge hasÂ arguably secured her status as a top contenderÂ in a Democratic 2020 field of two dozen candidates.Â
During last week’s debate, Harris had a powerful exchange with former Vice President Joe Biden, whereÂ she called out Biden for opposing federally mandated busingÂ to integrate schools while he was in Congress.
Since then, several polls have shownÂ Harris surging ahead of other leading Democrats in the party’s crowded primary field.
Among Democrats and Democratic-leaning voters, Harris is at 20% nationallyÂ â€” just two percentage points behindÂ from Biden, who is at 22%, according to a Quinnipiac Poll released Tuesday.
In an ABC News/Washington Post pollÂ releasedÂ Wednesday, 41% of Democratic-leaning voters said Harris stood out in the debate. In that same poll, however, Harris trailed behind Biden, who was 29%,Â and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders who was at 23%, as the preferred candidates among Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents. Harris stood at 11% alongside Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., who was also at 11%.
CNNÂ poll: Joe Biden slides, while Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren surge after debates
Iowa poll: Kamala Harris surges as Bernie Sanders suffers after debate
In most polling, Biden has repeatedly been the front-runner in the sprawling Democratic field. HoweverÂ following his performance at last week’s debate, the former vice president’s support has seen a significant drop. InÂ last month’s Quinnipiac poll, Biden was at 30%, meaning Tuesday’s poll represents an 8-percentage point drop for him. Biden also dropped 10 percentage points to 22% in a CNN poll published Monday.
In Tuesday’s Quinnipiac poll, Warren came in third at 14%.Â Sanders was the only other candidate in the double digits at 13%.
This was one of three recent pollsÂ showing a surge by Harris. The California senatorÂ has jumped into second place in Iowa withÂ 16%, according to aÂ Suffolk University/USA TODAY Poll releasedÂ Tuesday. HarrisÂ also surgedÂ to second place nationally in Monday’s CNN poll
But what does Harris’ growing front-runner status mean for her campaign? It will almost surelyÂ lead to more scrutiny and attention from her many opponents, including the president of the United States.
Here’s what to watch out for:
Trump is taking notice
President Donald Trump had beenÂ mostly mum on Harris’ campaign throughout the primary season.Â
However, that changed just two days after she took to the debate stageÂ when the president soughtÂ to downplay Harris’ performance.
“I thought that she was given too much credit,” Trump told reporters in a news conference in Japan following the G-20 summit. “I think she was given too much credit for what she did.
“It wasn’t that outstanding,” he concluded.
President Trump is trying to size up his potential competition for 2020 after the first two nights of the first democratic debate.
The president added that Biden“didn’tÂ do well” and “maybe the facts weren’t necessarily on his side.”
The president’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr.,Â also commented on Harris. Trump Jr. has repeatedly criticized several Democratic presidential contenders, including Biden.
Trump Jr. caused backlash from a number of other 2020 DemocratsÂ who came to Harris’ defense whenÂ heÂ retweeted a post byÂ Ali AlexanderÂ â€“Â a conservative commentator whose Twitter profile claims to have “exposed Kamala Harris.”
Alexander’s tweet said “Kamala Harris is *not* an American Black. She is half Indian and half Jamaican. I’m so sick of people robbing American Blacks (like myself) of our history. It’s disgusting.”Â
“Is this true? Wow,” Trump Jr. wrote in a retweet, before deleting the post that same night,Â according to The New York Times. Harris is American and was born in Oakland, Calif.
Harris campaign communication’s director Lily Adams called Trump Jr.’s attack “racist.”
â€œThis is the same type of racist attack his father used to attack Barack Obama,â€ she said in an interview onÂ CNN. â€œIt didnâ€™t work then and it wonâ€™t work now.â€
An interactive guide: Who is running for president in 2020?
Will Harris have a fundraising surge?
The second quarter fundraising periodÂ ended June 30, three days after Harris’ challenge to BidenÂ on the debate stage.
Although Harris has yet to announce her second-quarter fundraising totals, pundits and voters will be closely watching how many contributors she talliedÂ and how much money she took in.Â
South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg announced he raised more than $24.8 million in the second quarter, outraising Sanders who raised $18 million and Biden who raised $21.5 million.
During the first quarter, Harris raised $12 million. And in the first 24 hours after the start of last week’s debate, she raised $2 million online, according to the New York Times.
More: Biden raises $21.5 million since late April, trails Buttigieg in fundraising
Given her recent polling surge, her second-quarter fundraising will be scrutinized to see how she measures up to the other top-tier 2020 Democratic hopefuls.
Harris’ history as a prosecutor
Throughout her campaign, Harris has invoked her record asÂ attorney general for the state of California and embraced her past as a prosecutor.
While campaigning in South Carolina last month, Harris said that she is best positioned to “prosecute the case” againstÂ Trump due to her history.
â€œI know how to get that job done,â€ Harris said. â€œWe need somebody on our stage when it comes time for the general election who knows how to recognize a rap sheet when they see it and prosecute the case.â€
However, many progressives have criticized Harris for her record as California attorney general, arguingÂ she was part of an era of “tough on crime” Democrats.Â And those criticisms will likely become more salientÂ as Harris continues to gain national attention.Â
Lara Bazelon, a law professor and the former director of the Loyola Law School Project for the Innocent in Los Angeles,Â wrote in a New York Times op-edÂ in January that Harris was not a “progressive prosecutor.”
“Time after time, when progressives urged her toÂ embraceÂ criminal justice reforms as a district attorney and then the stateâ€™s attorney general, Ms. Harris opposed them or stayed silent,” Bazelon wrote.Â “Most troubling, Ms. Harris fought tooth and nail to upholdÂ wrongful convictionsÂ that had been secured through official misconduct that included evidence tampering, false testimony and the suppression of crucial information by prosecutors.”
Scrutiny ofÂ her record will continue to rise as Harris continues to appeal to voters. Over the past couple years, criminal justice reform has been a growing issue for voters, according to severalpolls andsurveys.
Rising support from black voters
In addition to her surge with the national electorate in recent polls, Harris is also gaining traction with black voters.Â
In Tuesday’s Quinnipiac poll, 27% of black Democratic voters backed Harris. Last month, Harris was at 9% among non-white Democratic voters, according to the Quinnipiac poll. However, Biden still currently leads with black voters. He is at 31% with black Democratic voters, according to the Quinnipiac poll.Â
Biden also has won theÂ support of several members of the Congressional Black Caucus, despite the fact that two African American senators and members of the caucusÂ — Harris and Cory Booker of New Jersey â€” are also seeking the Democratic nomination.Â
Black voters are a crucial bloc for Democrats.Â Many of the Democratic wins in the 2018 midterms were drivenÂ by black voters, particularly black women, according to many political observers and anÂ analysis from the NAACP.
Over the past couple of weeks, Harris has also tried to specifically appeal to black voters. Early last month, Essence Magazine announced Harris would have a monthly column with the only black woman in the Senate.Â On Saturday, Harris will be at the 2019 Essence Festival in New Orleans.
Since her debate performance, Harris has also raked in a new endorsement from Congress.
Rep. Jahana Hayes â€” the firstÂ Black womanÂ elected to Congress inÂ Connecticut â€” endorsed Harris on Wednesday, citing her debate performance.
“During last weekâ€™s debate, we watched all the Democratic candidates for President discuss their hopes and plans for our country,” she wrote in an op-ed published in Essence. “We watched as one candidate in particular had the courage to ask the tough questions and demonstrate the strength to handle difficult situations. We watched Kamala Harris remind us of how policy directly affects people.”
Hayes wrote that Harris isÂ “the perfect antidote to our current Presidentâ€™s false narratives.”
“Kamala knows what it takes to move us forward as a country, and I am proud to endorse her for President of the United States,” Hayes concluded.
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