Sen. Kamala Harris hit back at a racist conspiracy theory that she is not eligible to be vice president, saying she fully expects lies and distractions by her political opponents and that she’s ready for a fight.
“They’re going to engage in lies, they’re going to engage in deception, they’re going to engage in an attempt to distract from the real issues that are impacting the American people,” the California-born senator told The Grio in an interview published Sunday. “And I expect they will engage in dirty tactics and this is going to be a knock-down, drag-out and we’re ready. We’re ready.”
Harris’ defiance follows presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden naming her as his running mate last week, in effect making her the first Black and South Asian woman VP nominee for a major political party. Shortly after the announcement, an opinion piece published in Newsweek questioned whether she is eligible for the role based on her parents’ immigration status at the time of her birth. Her citizenship and eligibility for the role under the U.S. Constitution are in truth not in question.
President Donald Trump, who for years pushed a similar conspiracy theory against his predecessor, former President Barack Obama, called the “birther” claim against Harris “very serious” when questioned by a reporter at a press conference Thursday. He added that it isn’t anything he will be pursuing but also did not say anything to discredit it.
“I heard it today, that she doesn’t meet the requirements,” he told reporters before praising the author of the opinion piece as “a very highly qualified, very talented lawyer.”
Though Trump said he would not be looking into Harris’ eligibility, Jenna Ellis, a senior legal adviser to the Trump campaign, retweeted the opinion piece and encouraged Harris to address it.
“It’s an open question, and one I think Harris should answer so the American people know for sure she is eligible,” she told ABC News.
Trump senior adviser Steve Cortes, when asked about Trump not condemning the false claim against Harris, said it’s not the president’s responsibility.
“I don’t know why it’s incumbent upon him to opine on legal scholarship of the Constitution,” he told Fox News’ Chris Wallace on Sunday. “I don’t think that’s his place as president. What he’s saying is, we have not made an issue of this and we will not make an issue of this.”