Kamala Harris Is So ‘Radical,’ Trump’s Campaign Says, That She Criticized Joe Biden’s Criminal Justice Record. So Does Trump.
President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign, which is depicting Sen. Kamala Harris (D–Calif.), Joe Biden’s vice presidential pick, as “far left” and “radical,” was quick to note that the senator has criticized her running mate’s draconian record on criminal justice issues. Yet so have the Trump campaign and the president himself, which makes it hard to tell whether this point is meant to reflect badly on Harris or on Biden.
“Harris has repeatedly slammed Biden, going so far as to say that he supported racist policies that hurt the Black community,” says a press release from the Trump campaign. “Harris said Biden’s 1994 crime bill ‘contribute[d] to mass incarceration’ in the U.S.”
That’s a quote from comments that Harris made last May in response to Biden’s defense of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act—or “the 1994 Biden Crime Bill,” as he prefers to call it. “I have a great deal of respect for Vice President Joe Biden, but I disagree,” Harris told reporters in New Hampshire. “That crime bill, that 1994 crime bill, it did contribute to mass incarceration in this country.” She noted that it “was the first time that we had a federal three-strikes law,” requiring a life sentence for anyone convicted of a violent crime after committing two other offenses (violent or not). She suggested that provision “encouraged” similar laws at the state level. Harris also noted that the bill “funded the building of more prisons,” which was contingent on state passage of “truth in sentencing” laws that limited or abolished parole.
The Trump campaign points out that Harris also has criticized Biden for bragging about his collaboration with former segregationists. While the context of that criticism was a spat about busing during a Democratic presidential debate in June, Biden has specifically cited his work with Sen. Strom Thurmond (R–S.C.) on the Comprehensive Crime Control Act of 1984, which began a pattern of harsh mandatory minimum sentences that continued into the 1990s, as an inspiring example of bipartisanship. During that period, Biden was eager to show that Democrats could be at least as tough on crime and drugs as Republicans. In a 1993 Senate floor speech, he boasted that “every major crime bill since 1976 that’s come out of this Congress, every minor crime bill, has had the name of the Democratic senator from the State of Delaware: Joe Biden.”
Biden’s criminal justice record is so appalling that the Trump campaign has attacked him from the left on the issue. “In addition to wrecking countless lives with the 1994 crime bill, during his time in the Senate, Biden’s ‘priority’ was legislation that policy experts agree made the opioid epidemic far more deadly,” it said in a March 4 press release. “Biden pioneered legislation that decreases the likelihood of people
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