NEW YORK – Vice President Kamala Harris said Wednesday that racism and sexism played into some of the treatment she gets from the media.
Speaking at the New York Times DealBook Summit, Harris was asked by moderator Andrew Ross Sorkin about remarks made by former White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain that bigotry played into her historic unpopularity numbers.
“I do think sexism and racism are part of the problem, no question about it,” Klain told Kara Swisher on an episode of her podcast, “On With Kara Swisher,” in April. “I think she was not as well known in national politics before she became vice president. And I think that she hasn’t gotten the credit for all that she’s done.”
Harris chose her words carefully when Sorkin asked if she thought that was true.
“Are we talking about the media or people? As it relates to the media, I’m sure some of that is true,” she said.
“As it relates to people,” Sorkin said.
Harris replied she had finished a lengthy college tour where she’d met with 15,000 Americans at universities, community colleges and trade schools, where auditoriums were full and there were often overflow rooms.
“The excitement was palpable,” she said. “When these folks, meaning the American people, have an opportunity to hear firsthand where we are and what we are committed to… on a lot of these issues, they believe in the leadership, and they applaud the leadership, and I will tell you that was the case everywhere I went.”
Harris is the first Black vice-president in history, in addition to being the first woman to hold the job. She has been plagued by historically low approval ratings in her position as President Biden’s No. 2, but there has never been any indication Biden would replace her as his running mate going into 2024.
Harris also addressed polls showing a tight race between Biden and former President Trump, as Democrats seek to define the race as a battle for the future of democracy.
Asked by Sorkin if the American people understood the stakes, she said the word “democracy” might not be on their lips but they would view it through other prisms like freedom and liberty. She pointed to recent election wins for Democrats, such as in Ohio in an apparent allusion to the abortion rights victory there, that “when freedom was on the ballot,” Democrats did well.
“They may not talk about it using the term democracy, but they understand the importance of freedom, of liberty, of human rights,” she said. “There is a full-on attack against hard-won, hard-fought freedoms in our country, the freedom to make a decision about your body, the freedom to love who you love and be free from violence, antisemitism, Islamophobia. There are fundamental freedoms at stake right now.”