The chattering classes have crowned Kamala Harris the winner of Thursday night’s Democratic presidential primary debate. As is so often the case with the senator from California and former top cop for that state, Harris earned her positive press with whoppers and attack lines carefully calculated for viral marketing potential. She may indeed have what it takes to be a winner—so did Donald Trump, whose propensity for bold and easily disproved falsehoods is also a hallmark Harris trait.
What did Harris fudge the truth about? Let’s start with the big ones.
Harris told viewers that she disagreed with President Obama’s policy of informing Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) when undocumented immigrants were arrested for state or local crimes. But “as district attorney of San Francisco, Kamala Harris supported a city policy that required law enforcement to turn over undocumented juvenile immigrants to federal immigration authorities if they were arrested and suspected of committing a felony, regardless of whether they were actually convicted of a crime,” CNN notes.
Another whopper: Harris claimed last night to have been one of the earliest and biggest proponents of police-worn body cameras. But as recently as 2015, she was arguing against making it California’s official statewide policy. “I as a general matter believe that we should invest in the ability of law enforcement leaders in specific regions and with their departments to use … discretion to figure out what technology they are going to adopt based on needs that they have and resources that they have,” Harris said at the time.
She told debate viewers that as attorney general, she had required “that all my special agents would wear body cameras.” That’s true—Harris did require it of the small set of officers working directly for her, but not for officers statewide.
Asked about the economy, Harris implied that low unemployment numbers in America are simply a reflection of poor people having to work two or three jobs just to get by. But that’s not how the employment numbers work. And as The Washington Post points out, “there are 7.8 million people who hold more than one job right now, just 5 percent of Americans with jobs. The percentage has been roughly steady since the Great Recession, and in fact is lower than in the mid-1990s, when it hovered around 6 percent.”
In addition to these direct misrepresentations, Harris also made comments with at least a fuzzy relationship to reality.