By WILL BREDENSTEINER
With just over a year until the Iowa Caucuses, United States Senator from California, Kamala Harris, announced her candidacy and immediately planned to visit Iowa, with Drake being her host.
Topics covered during the Town Hall, moderated by Jake Tapper started with racism.
“We have seen in the last two years that there is new fuel lighting that fire,” Senator Harris said, alluding to the current Trump Administration. Senator Harris made it clear, however, that “the vast majority have so much more in common that unites us than divides us.”
The conversation moved on to Senator Harris’ past as a prosecutor and Attorney General of California, because some claim that her stances then are not what they are now with regards to the death penalty and releasing non-violent offenders.
Senior Riley Fink, asked “How do you reconcile your contradictory past with what you claim to support today?” Harris responded that she has “been consistent [her] whole career” and that when she was Attorney General, she implemented a program to teach implicit bias and procedural justice training to police officers.
Fink was available for comment after the event. Fink said he would have liked the Senator to have shed a little more light on her past stances.
“The question I asked is what many liberals have been asking, and I think her record as a DA and as California’s Attorney General is definitely a point of contention worth discussing,” Fink said.
Fink said he was undecided on whether or not he would caucus for Senator Harris.
“She’s a strong candidate, and I was overall pretty happy with most of her responses, but I’ll wait to decide who I’ll support,” Fink said.
President Trump was the center of much of the conversation, especially with the recent government shutdown over the wall. When responding to a question about debating the president, Senator Harris said those speaking to the president should speak from a point of empathy, thinking of people and the country as a whole. Senator Harris called Trump’s proposed border wall a “medieval vanity project” and declared that she will under no circumstances support funding for such a wall.
When it came to her personal life, Tapper asked what it would mean to Senator Harris if she became the first black female president. Senator Harris responded with a saying her mother would tell her, “Kamala, you may be the first to do many things, but make sure you’re not the last,” going on to say, “Don’t be burdened by what has been. See what can be and strive for that.”
Senator Harris declared at this event that she supports a Green New Deal, an economic stimulus plan that aims to combat both climate change and income inequality, spearheaded by U.S. House Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
On the topic of student debt, Senator Harris said she supports debt-free college, reforming the Pell Grant process, and outlawing for-profit colleges and universities.
With regards to healthcare, Senator Harris said that healthcare is a right and the government should implement a Medicare-for-All solution, where the federal government would pay for most medical costs, eliminating health insurance companies. “[Healthcare] should be understood to be something that all people should be entitled to so that they can live a productive life, so they can have dignity,” Harris said.
Only current Drake seniors were students the last time the Caucuses came to town. The last event of this nature that Drake hosted was the Democratic Town Hall with Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley on Jan. 25, 2016.
After months of speculation and many visits to Iowa, Martin O’Malley has declared he will not run in 2020 and has endorsed Beto O’Rourke. Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders may throw their hats in the ring, but have yet to declare anything.
Students were allowed to enter into a lottery to attend the Town Hall and other opportunities are said to come out soon.
The Drake Democrats hosted an event at Papa Keno’s after the Town Hall with State Senator Liz Mathis attending.
Drake agreed to be CNN’s partner in Iowa, so it is likely future CNN events leading up to the Caucuses will be hosted by Drake.
Image of Kamala Harris at the Town Hall | Photo Courtesy of Lórien MacEnulty