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Kamala Harris focused on herself and values — but ex-prosecutor ready to take on ‘predator’ in White House

The traditional role of a vice-presidential candidate is to serve as the campaign’s attack dog, a tricky proposition for a woman candidate given certain attitudes.  Harris seemed to dial it back a bit accordingly, concentrating on introducing herself, her values and her priorities.

U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris accepts the Democratic nomination for vice president on the third night of the Democratic National Convention from the Chase Center in Wilmington, Delaware.
U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris accepts the Democratic nomination for vice president on the third night of the Democratic National Convention from the Chase Center in Wilmington, Delaware.
Win McNamee/Getty Images

It’s hard to imagine anything that would gall President Donald Trump more than losing an election to a Black woman.

And though it would upset Trump greatly to lose to any Black woman, we know Sen. Kamala Harris, Joe Biden’s running mate, isn’t just any Black woman to Trump.

She is a “very, very nasty” woman, a “mad woman,” he says.

She’s the “meanest, most horrible, most disrespectful” member of the U.S. Senate, Trump tells us.

On Wednesday night, Americans took a step in getting acquainted with Harris for themselves as the nation’s first Black and first South Asian American vice presidential nominee addressed the Democratic National Convention, and some other descriptors came to mind:

Talented. Accomplished. Formidable.

She took her own swipes at Trump, of course, commenting on his “incompetence,” “callousness” and “failure of leadership.”

“I know a predator when I see one,” said the former prosecutor.

The traditional role of a vice-presidential candidate is to serve as the campaign’s attack dog, a tricky proposition for a woman candidate given certain attitudes.

Harris seemed to dial it back a bit accordingly, concentrating on introducing herself, her values and her priorities. There will be time to prove her toughness later.

When Trump complained of Harris being disrespectful, he was referring specifically to her questioning of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanagh during his confirmation hearing, but we can surmise it was Trump who felt personally disrespected.

Yet Harris was also what Trump called his “number one draft pick,” meaning he believed she was the vice presidential choice who will make it easiest for him and Mike Pence to defeat the Democratic ticket in November.

In sports they call that giving the other team “bulletin board material,” a sort of foolish trash-talking reserved for locker rooms. I don’t know that Democrats need any more motivation to evict Trump from the White House, but I expect some of them are taking particular note of how he has depicted Harris.

It’s true that Trump insults anyone who opposes him, and that he notches up his rhetoric for any female opponent, not just women of color.

Still the record is clear that Trump draws upon a particular vocabulary to express his disdain for Black women who challenge him, usually questioning their intelligence.

We’ve had four years now to observe Trump. That experience tells us that, whether or not Harris is his top draft pick, she’s definitely his biggest nightmare.