Chris Matthews: Is Kamala Harris ‘Seen as African American?’

January 23, 2019

MSNBC anchor Chris Matthews asked on his show Tuesday night whether Sen. Kamala Harris (D., Calif.) is "seen as African American."

Harris announced this week she is running for president, putting her candidacy front and center in the 2020 conversation. Speaking to Democratic commentator Jamal Simmons in a clip flagged by Mediaite, Matthews led a discussion on the meaning and symbolism of Harris’s campaign and the quality of her rollout.

"Ruth [Marcus], let me talk about this—Let me go to Jamal on this, I gotta go to Jamal on this, for obvious reasons," Matthews said.

Simmons critiqued Harris’s decision to have a campaign headquarters in Baltimore rather than her hometown of Oakland, but he went on to say she had strengths as a candidate. "She’s got a bio, she’s got a record, she’s a prosecutor with a heart, she’s had a lot to deal with keeping people out of recidivism," Simmons said.

"Is she seen as African American?" Matthews asked. "Is she seen as African American?"

"Yes, I think she’s seen as African American," Simmons replied, crediting her for making her announcement at her alma mater Howard University, a historically black college.

"She’s really planting her feet in the African-American community, and I think she’s going to be a very strong candidate," Simmons added. "Now, [New Jersey Sen.] Cory Booker is also going to do the same thing."

"Is he running?" Matthews asked about Booker. "One of the B’s, and he’s not in there—when is he coming in?"

Simmons said former Vice President Joe Biden is a formidable candidate because of his connections to Barack Obama and the black community.

"But today is Kamala Harris’s day, and she deserves the credit for this day because she is helping to set the pace for this entire race," he said.

Harris has stacked her team with former Hillary Clinton campaign officials, although her rollout has been marred by questions about her progressive bona fides and her record as a prosecutor.