Harris kicks off fight

World | AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE 30 Jan 2019

Early 2020 presidential candidate Kamala Harris introduced herself to American voters by drawing a sharp contrast with President Donald Trump, offering a robust defense of her progressive positions a day after formally declaring her White House bid.

By launching her campaign a year before any primary votes are cast, the Democratic senator from California leapfrogs several party luminaries waiting in the wings, and a few already in the race, to become the de facto frontrunner.

It is a burgeoning field that may feature dozens of candidates seeking to oust President Donald Trump.

Harris immediately took her campaign to Iowa, the state that votes first in the nominating process, holding a televised town hall from Des Moines where she eviscerated the Trump administration for "lighting that fire" of racial division and seeking to vilify young immigrants.

Complicating the launch, billionaire former Starbucks chief executive Howard Schultz said hours after her announcement that he is seriously considering entering the race - as an independent.

Harris, 54, and Schultz, 65, join several candidates already in the race, including Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, New York's Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, House Democrat Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii and Obama-era housing secretary Julian Castro of Texas.

The compelling Oakland speech and follow-up town hall was most likely a calculated shot across the bows of those still on the 2020 sidelines, notably the four Bs mulling a run: Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Cory Booker and Beto O'Rourke.

Harris's father is from Jamaica and her mother is Indian. If elected, she would become the first African-American woman president.

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