Author Topic: Kamala Harris on the Today Show!  (Read 1891 times)

Offline Reginald Hudlin

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Kamala Harris on the Today Show!
« on: October 29, 2009, 09:50:53 pm »

October 29, 2009
SF DA Kamala Harris touts book, AG bid on 'Today'

San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris got a full five minutes in the national spotlight to pump up her new book and budding AG bid on NBC's "Today" show this morning.

Harris used the bulk of the airtime to talk about her track record of cracking down on crime and recidivism rates, reminding viewers four times during the 5-minute spot about her credentials as a career prosecutor (any guesses what aspects of her resume she'll be highlighting on the campaign trail?).

Today host Matt Lauer, whose tough questions included asking Harris how she felt about being called the "female Barack Obama," asked the Democratic candidate if she has any aspirations for higher office beyond the AG helm.

"No, you know, it's one step at a time, and I'm a career prosecutor," Harris sputtered before pivoting into a mini stump speech about reforming the criminal justice system and, of course, squeezing in a plug for the new book she was ostensibly on "Today" to tout.

See the full transcript of the interview after the jump

MATT LAUER: Now to a woman named one of America's most powerful women by Newsweek magazine. As San Francisco's first female African-American and Indian-American district attorney, Kamala Harris has received praise for raising conviction rates against violent criminals while creating innovative programs to reduce crime and prevent repeat offenders. Now she's out with a new book called Smart On Crime: A Career Prosecutor's Plan to Make Us Safer. Kamala good morning.

KAMALA HARRIS: Good morning, Matt.

LAUER: Nice to have you here.

HARRIS: It's wonderful to be here.

LAUER: Crime is something we think about every single day, whether you've been directly impacted by it or indirectly. We pay for it every single day in this country.

HARRIS: Absolutely.

LAUER: And you think, in large part, we're going about fighting it wrong. Why?

HARRIS: Well, first of all, as a career prosecutor, I can tell you that there is no question in my mind or in anyone's mind, serious and violent crime? Lock 'em up. We know that. And we know about serious and violent crime because it's on the front page of our paper every day and the leading story on the evening news.

LAUER: So you don't differ from anybody on that subject.

HARRIS: Absolutely.

LAUER: It's on non-violent crime where you differ.

HARRIS: Absolutely. If you look at crime, look at on a pyramid. On the top of the pyramid, serious and most violent crime. It's our priority, let's deal with it. But truly, it is the fewest number of crimes that are occupying so much space and so much money in our criminal justice system, and frankly, we cannot have a one size fits all approach. And that's why a lot of what I talk about in the book is let's bust the myths and get over, you know the idea, that for example, when we want to talk about criminal justice policy, we want tough talk and "lock 'em up talk." Let's realize that the bulk of what we're dealing with is crime that is recidivist in nature. There's a revolving door around it and we've got to get smarter around cycling people out.

LAUER: You surprised some people by saying, "You know who we should target? We should take a hard look at elementary school truancy."

HARRIS: Absolutely.

LAUER: And other people say, "Wait a second. Let's go to high school truancy because they're most likely to get in trouble." You think, you say no, let's go to the elementary schools. Why?

HARRIS: Let me tell you, I have seen in my city and throughout this country where we have large number of elementary school students who are literally missing 60 to 80 days of a 180-day school year. And as far as I'm concerned, a child going without an education is tantamount to a crime and we need to treat it just as seriously as any other issue, because invariably, that kid will be the high school dropout, who will be the crime victim and the perpetrator.

LAUER: You started another program that's getting a lot of attention nationwide. You started out there, but it's, it's being copied nationwide, called Back On Track.

HARRIS: Right.

LAUER: I'll paraphrase it. You jump in and correct me if I'm wrong.


LAUER: You get a young offender-


LAUER: -they've committed a drug offense. They don't go to jail, they go to a boot camp for a year. They plead guilty.

HARRIS: Right.

LAUER: They go through drug testing. They get a GED while they're in this program, and when they're finished with it, if they don't screw up, they get that felony conviction dropped, which allows them to go off and get a job easier.

HARRIS: And Back On Track, as an initiative, has proven over the course of four-and-a-half years to reduce the recidivism or re-offense rate for that population from 54 percent to less than 10 percent.

LAUER: But not a perfect program. And because you're running for attorney general and you're raising a lot of money, they're targeting you. And one of the things your critics have dug up is that there were some illegal immigrants involved in that prison-

HARRIS: Absolutely.

LAUER: -who got their felony convictions dropped because of it. How did that happen?

HARRIS: Well first of all, let me say this, some would say that innovation in government and innovation in law enforcement is an oxymoron. I would suggest to you, that's not true. But inherent in innovation means you're gonna try to do something as it's never been done, but based on the idea that you can actually improve the system. So I created Back on Track. Did I figure out every scenario, no? So, early on, we realized we hadn't safe-guarded for illegal immigrants being in the program. When we learned that, that happened, we fixed it. There you go.

LAUER: I mentioned in one of the teases for your segment, Kamala, that, that you have been called by some a female Barack Obama. Well, you dip your head there, and I'm wondering if that isn't a bit of a double-edged sword, because Barack Obama, for as popular as he was and continues to be, if you look at the polling we've done recently, it says they still give him, a lot of people still give him high marks on style and inspiration, but not such high marks when it comes to accomplishment, getting the job done. So are you worried about that comparison?

HARRIS: Well, I'll tell you, you now, as now second term as district attorney of San Francisco and as a career prosecutor, I know the power that I have as a prosecutor, and it is immense. And when we're in positions of leadership, I think we should do what, I mean, my prayer every night is that I will be judged based on a body of work and not the popularity of any one decision. And I applaud our president for taking on very difficult issues and not taking on these issues in pursuit of popularity, but actually thinking about what is in the best interests of our country.

LAUER: I mentioned you're running for attorney general. Do you have ambitions for national office?

HARRIS: No, you know, it's one step at a time, and I'm a career prosecutor. I really believe that California has the ability, as that old adage says, "So goes California, so goes the rest of the country," to do what I think is really necessary in terms of reform of our criminal justice system so that we're reducing crime in our communities and increasing public resources, and that's why I wrote the book Smart On Crime.

LAUER: You got it in there in the last sentence. Well done, Kamala Harris. Nice to see you. It's good to have you here.

HARRIS: Thank you, thank you.

LAUER: You can read an excerpt of from book that she just plugged shamelessly. It's called Smart On Crime, and it's on our Web site,

Categories: 2010 statewide races

Posted by Torey Van Oot

Offline Reginald Hudlin

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Re: Kamala Harris on the Today Show!
« Reply #1 on: February 22, 2010, 08:39:06 pm »
Nine candidates see themselves as attorney general

Six Democrats and three Republicans want the position. Money is expected to make a difference, but it's not the only factor.

February 21, 2010|By Shane Goldmacher Reporting from Sacramento

After 12 years in which two veterans of the state's Democratic establishment have held the office of California attorney general, several less-known politicians -- nine in all -- are vying to land the influential post.

Incumbent Atty. Gen. Jerry Brown won in 2006 after two terms as Oakland's mayor, two terms as governor and three failed presidential bids. His predecessor, current Treasurer Bill Lockyer, had served 25 years in the state Legislature, including four as Senate leader.

Now, half a dozen Democrats have lined up to succeed Brown. Among them are San Francisco Dist. Atty. Kamala Harris, three sitting lawmakers and a Facebook executive. Former L.A. City Atty. Rocky Delgadillo is making his second bid for the job; he was trounced by Brown in the 2006 primary.

Republicans are upbeat about their chances to wrest control of the office without a household-name Democrat in the running. Boosting those hopes was the recent entrance of Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley, a Republican elected three times in Democratic-leaning Los Angeles County, into the race. But the moderate Cooley must navigate a primary race in a state where most of the GOP faithful are conservatives.

The job of chief state law enforcement officer comes with broad powers to investigate, regulate and prosecute in the nation's most populous state. And three former attorneys general -- Earl Warren, Pat Brown and George Deukmejian -- have gone on to be governor in the modern era; Brown is bidding this year to make it four.

Money is a key barometer of a candidate's chances, especially in California.

Among the Democrats, Harris, 45, outpaced her opponents to collect $2.2 million last year, some it from such Hollywood heavyweights as Steven Spielberg and David Geffen. PBS news anchor Gwen Ifill has called Harris, who is half African American and half Indian, "the female Barack Obama."

As attorney general, Harris said, she would protect consumers and pursue white-collar crime. "By and large, that is a crime going without consequence," Harris said.

Factors such as gender, ethnicity, geography (where a candidate hails from) and his or her profession as listed on the ballot also make a big difference, said Mark Baldassare, president of the Public Policy Institute of California. Breaking through to the public with any more distinctive information "is going to be a challenge," he said.

Delgadillo, who served two terms as city attorney, touts his relative prominence in the voter-rich Los Angeles area. "In the largest media market, we are the most well known," he said.

But Delgadillo's last term was plagued by controversy, including revelations that his wife damaged his city car while driving without a license and a federal investigation into her consulting business, which resulted in no charges.

Some opponentshave suggested that although Delgadillo is well known, he is not necessarily well regarded. Asked about such perceptions, Delgadillo said "state legislators have an 80% disapproval rating" and noted there are three incumbent lawmakers in the race.

Assemblyman Ted Lieu (D-Torrance) said his record pressing legislation to rein in financial industry abuses will be an asset. Lieu, recently promoted to lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Air Force Reserves, said he would continue that fight as attorney general.

Assemblyman Alberto Torrico, a Newark Democrat and former labor lawyer, has the backing of several influential police unions, and organized labor has accounted for more than 25% of his donations.

Delgadillo, Lieu and Torrico each amassed more than $1 million in 2009. Assemblyman Pedro Nava (D- Santa Barbara), a former deputy district attorney in Fresno, is a self-described dark horse whose money haul has been far less than that of his major opponents. Still, the race is anyone's to win, Nava said, adding that a candidate could win the Democratic primary with as little as 20% of the vote.

If Nava is the dark horse, then Chris Kelly, Facebook's chief privacy officer, is the wealthy wild card. "I'll be a major personal investor" in what he said he thinks will be a $5-million to $10-million campaign, the 39-year-old political novice said in a Facebook message.

That is millions more than his opponents are expected to have, and Kelly has already spent $2 million of his own money. The financial advantage could mean that Kelly, who lost his only other bid for public office, a Palo Alto City Council contest in 2001, could be the lone attorney general hopeful whom voters hear from widely in TV and radio ads this year.

Among Republicans, state Sen. Tom Harman (R-Huntington Beach) leads the money race after raising $667,000 in 2009. Cooley and John Eastman, the former dean of Chapman University Law School, began fundraising only after joining the contest last month.

Cooley, a career prosecutor, began in the district attorney's office in 1973. As the elected district attorney since 2000, he has won praise from diverse groups including defense lawyers and police chiefs. But his pursuit of changes to California's "three-strikes" law has caused friction with conservatives.

Eastman is a conservative legal scholar. Among his GOP bona fides: He once clerked for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.