Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) sharply criticized Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) on Wednesday at the Democratic presidential debate.
Gabbard singled out Harris’ record as California Attorney General.
“I want to bring the conversation back to the criminal justice system that is disproportionately affecting black and brown people,” Gabbard said. “I’m concerned about this record of Sen. Harris. She put over 1,500 people in jail for marijuana violations and laughed about it when she was asked if she ever smoked marijuana.”
“She blocked evidence that would have freed an innocent man from death row,” Gabbard continued. “She kept people in prison beyond their sentences to use them as cheap labor for the state of California, and she fought to keep cash bail system in place that impacts poor people in the worst kind of way.”
The attack seemed to get under Harris’ skin.
“I am proud of that work,” the senator replied. “And I am proud of making a decision to not just give fancy speeches or be in a legislative body and give speeches on the floor but doing the work of being in the position to use the power that I had to reform a system that is badly in need of reform.”
Gabbard argued that Harris had misused her opportunity to make a difference in people’s lives.
“And worse yet in the case of those who are on death row, you blocked evidence from being revealed that would have freed them until you were forced to do so,” Gabbard repeated. “There’s no excuse for that and the people who suffered under your reign as prosecutor, you owe them an apology.”
Harris sought to set the record straight on her death penalty record.
“My entire career, I have been personally opposed to the death penalty and that has never changed,” Harris said. “I think you can judge people by when they are under fire — and it’s not about some fancy opinion on a stage but when they’re in the position to actually make a decision — what do they do.”