WASHINGTON (CN) — Upon the announcement that his opponent Joe Biden selected Senator Kamala Harris as his running mate, President Donald Trump used his nightly coronavirus press conference at the White House Tuesday to hurl now ubiquitous insults at the newly coupled contenders.
“She’s told many stories that aren’t true. She wants to slash funding for our military at levels no one would believe. She’s against fracking, against petroleum products and she wants to go into Pennsylvania or Ohio or Oklahoma or the great state of Texas?” Trump asked reporters gathered at the White House for the nightly briefing. “She’s in favor of socialized medicine. You’re going to lose your doctors, lose your plan. She wants to take your health care plan away and from 180 million Americans who are very happy with their health insurance and she wants to take that away.”
In truth, the California Democrat and former prosecutor has said none of these things or advocated for the removal of health care or proposed socialized medicine. She actively supports the federal health care law launched under President Barack Obama, while the Trump administration petitioned the Supreme Court less than a month ago to invalidate the Affordable Care Act on the grounds that it is unconstitutional on its face.
Harris did vote in favor of an amendment to the national defense spending bill that would promise to reduce “the bloated Pentagon budget by 10% and invest that money into jobs, education, health care and housing in the communities in the United States in which the poverty rate is not less than 25%.”
The amendment was ultimately defeated and never tacked onto the original spending bill.
“She was my number-one pick. She was my number-one draft pick, and we’ll see how she works out,” Trump said before saying just a moment later that he was “surprised” Biden selected her as his running mate.
The president also zeroed in on Senator Harris’ frequently whip-sharp questioning of Judge Brett Kavanaugh during the would-be justice’s contentious Senate confirmation hearing in September 2018.
Harris grilled Kavanaugh on whether he had ever discussed former special counsel Robert Mueller or Mueller’s probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election with Mark Kasowitz, the president’s attorney at the time, or anyone at Kasowitz’s law firm, Kasowitz Benson Torres.
Kavanaugh struggled at length to respond and relied on asking the senator to tell him who worked at the law firm.
“Did you speak to anyone at the law firm about the investigation? It’s a very direct question,” Harris said, her voice even and her tone measured.
The former district attorney for San Francisco also pressed Kavanaugh if he could think of “any laws that give the government the power to make decisions about the male body.”
Kavanaugh faced allegations of misconduct and sexual assault ahead of his nomination, thrusting his position on women’s rights and reproductive rights into sharp relief.
Kavanaugh hedged, furrowed his brow and again asked the senator to be more specific.
Harris obliged him.
“Male versus female,” she said.
Kavanaugh was ultimately unable to think of any laws that would fit the bill.
On Tuesday, Trump bemoaned Harris’ questions at that hearing some two years ago.
“She was extraordinarily nasty to Judge Kavanaugh. She was nasty to a level — that was just a horrible thing, the way she was. The way she treated Justice Kavanaugh and I won’t forget that soon,” Trump said.
Calling Harris “nasty” no less than four times during the press conference — a refrain the president has overwhelmingly used to describe female politicians and journalists during his time as president — Trump also said he was surprised the former vice president did not select Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren.
Warren ran against Biden in the primaries, ultimately losing to him but outlasting Harris’ own 2020 presidential bid.
“She [Harris] was probably nastier than even Pocahontas to Joe Biden,” Trump said, referring to Warren. “And it’s hard to pick somebody that is that disrespectful when she said things during the debates that were horrible about Sleepy Joe. I would think he wouldn’t have picked her.”
Harris and Biden tangled at primary debates last year when the California lawmaker called out Biden’s history of opposition to court-ordered busing during the 1970s. But any bad feelings between the former opponents appears to have evaporated as the weeks of speculation on possible VP picks finally ran out.
“Back when Kamala was attorney general, she worked closely with Beau. I watched as they took on the big banks, lifted up working people, and protected women and kids from abuse. I was proud then, and I’m proud now to have her as my partner in this campaign,” Biden wrote on Twitter Tuesday ahead of Trump’s press conference.
Beau Biden was the former vice president’s eldest son, who served as Delaware’s attorney general before dying of brain cancer five years ago.
In a statement of her own Tuesday, Harris said she was honored Biden picked her because he was the candidate that could “unify” the American people after a tumultuous four years.
“As president, he’ll build an America that lives up to our ideals. I’m honored to join him as our party’s nominee for Vice President, and do what it takes to make him our Commander-in-Chief,” Harris tweeted.
The attacks from the incumbent administration are expected only to ramp up with less than 85 days until the November election. One such attack unfolded in a minutes-long riff Tuesday night as the president defended his choice of Mike Pence as vice president to an inquiring reporter.
“I like Mike Pence much better. He’s solid as a rock. He’s done everything you can do. He’s respected by every religious group, whether it’s evangelical or any other group, they respect Mike Pence and I would take him over Kamala and the horrible way she treated Justice Kavanaugh,” Trump said. “It was terrible for her, for our nation. I thought she was the meanest, most horrible, disrespectful person of anybody in the U.S. Senate.”
Then Trump asserted Biden and Harris would neuter or modify the Second Amendment to the point where it would be unrecognizable.
Harris has proposed a widely popular position on guns: moving toward universal background checks and revoking the licenses of gun dealers or manufacturers who are found to break the law.
She has also called for limiting the sale of guns to individuals with a history of domestic violence and abuse.