Har­ris not an open book

Wrap­ping up tour for mem­oir, se­na­tor plays coy in L.A. amid talk of a pres­i­den­tial run.

Los Angeles Times - - CALIFORNIA - By Michael Finnegan

For Nicki Mitchell of Pomona, there was one good rea­son to come hear U.S. Sen. Ka­mala Har­ris of Cal­i­for­nia talk about her mem­oir Sun­day af­ter­noon at a theater in Los An­ge­les.

“I’m see­ing it as an op­por­tu­nity to see the next pres­i­dent,” said Mitchell, a high school coun­selor.

Har­ris hasn’t an­nounced whether she will seek the Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial nom­i­na­tion in 2020. But the like­li­hood that she will join the race soon was the main lure for more than 1,200 Cal­i­for­ni­ans who flocked to her two Los An­ge­les events Sun­day.

After stops in San Fran­cisco, New York and Wash­ing­ton, Har­ris wrapped up her five-day book tour with a read­ing of her new chil­dren’s book at the Grove shop­ping mall, fol­lowed by a con­ver­sa­tion on stage at the Wil­shire Ebell Theatre about her just-re­leased mem­oir. By all ap­pear­ances, the events were as much about pre­par­ing to run for pres­i­dent as they were about sell­ing books.

Mod­er­ated by au­thor Cleo Wade, the talk about Har­ris’ mem­oir blended the per­sonal and the po­lit­i­cal. The se­na­tor re­called the blind date when she met her hus­band, Los An­ge­les lawyer Dou­glas Emhoff, and rem­i­nisced about the “war­rior” na­ture of her late

mother, a breast can­cer re­searcher and civil rights ac­tivist. She com­pared Amer­i­can democ­racy in the era of Pres­i­dent Trump to a house dur­ing a nat­u­ral dis­as­ter.

“Some of the shin­gles are fall­ing off, but the house is still stand­ing,” she said.

The event, spon­sored by Writ­ers Bloc Presents, cost $41 per ticket, which came with a copy of the se­na­tor’s mem­oir, “The Truths We Hold.” Tak­ing friendly ques­tions from a di­rec­tor’s chair on stage, Har­ris was con­ver­sa­tional and warmly re­ceived by the left-lean­ing au­di­ence.

Her mock­ing of Trump’s de­mand for a bor­der wall was one of her big­gest laugh lines. She re­called prose­cut­ing transna­tional crim­i­nal or­ga­ni­za­tions when she was Cal­i­for­nia at­tor­ney gen­eral, say­ing in a tone of dis­be­lief: “That wall ain’t go­ing to stop them.”

Not ev­ery­one saw a pres­i­dent-in-wait­ing. Sandy Rich­man, a West­side fash­ion con­sul­tant, likes Har­ris but said it was too soon for her to run for pres­i­dent. “I mean, she hasn’t been a se­na­tor that long,” she said.

Fol­low­ing the cus­tom of White House con­tenders who use book launches to pro­mote their can­di­da­cies be­fore for­mally an­nounc­ing their cam­paigns, Har­ris, 54, has en­joyed a burst of free pub­lic­ity on na­tional talk shows, in­clud­ing ABC’s “The View” and “The Late Show With Stephen Col­bert” on CBS.

Col­bert was one of many in­ter­view­ers who asked whether she would be run­ning for pres­i­dent. “I might,” she re­sponded with a smile as the au­di­ence cheered.

Har­ris dodged the ques­tion of whether re­ports that she plans to an­nounce her can­di­dacy on Martin Luther King Jr. Day were ac­cu­rate, say­ing only that Amer­i­cans should al­ways honor the civil rights leader.

“Su­per­heroes Are Ev­ery­where,” her chil­dren’s book that she read aloud at the Barnes & No­ble at the Grove, echoes her po­lit­i­cal speeches in places. One pas­sage pays trib­ute to late Supreme Court Jus­tice Thur­good Mar­shall and other civil rights icons.

The daugh­ter of im­mi­grants from In­dia and Ja­maica, Har­ris is one of sev­eral women in Con­gress lay­ing ground to seek the Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial nom­i­na­tion.

Sen. El­iz­abeth War­ren of Mas­sachusetts and Rep. Tulsi Gab­bard of Hawaii are al­ready run­ning, and Sen. Kirsten Gil­li­brand of New York is ex­pected to an­nounce her can­di­dacy soon. Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Min­nesota is also weigh­ing whether to run.

Alma Delin of North Hills showed up at the Grove event in a black T-shirt read­ing, “The Fu­ture is Fe­male.”

“In other coun­tries, there are fe­male pres­i­dents — why not the U.S.?” she asked.

Har­ris is one of a few Cal­i­for­ni­ans who might jump into the race. Oth­ers in­clude Rep. Eric Swal­well of Dublin and Los An­ge­les Mayor Eric Garcetti.

Among those in the crowd Sun­day at the Grove was Ryan Damodaran of Bur­bank. Like Har­ris, he is the son of an im­mi­grant from Chen­nai, In­dia.

“You don’t see a lot of In­di­ans in such prom­i­nent roles in the coun­try,” he said. “She has such a strong voice, and we need more young voices in the Demo­cratic Party, and I think she can be the face of the fu­ture.”

Gary Coron­ado Los An­ge­les Times

SEN. KA­MALA HAR­RIS of Cal­i­for­nia pro­motes her new book, “The Truths We Hold,” at Barnes & No­ble at the Grove shop­ping mall in Los An­ge­les on Sun­day.

Pho­to­graphs by Gary Coron­ado Los An­ge­les Times

SEN. KA­MALA HAR­RIS, greet­ing guests at Barnes & No­ble at the Grove shop­ping mall, ap­pears to be fol­low­ing the cus­tom of White House con­tenders us­ing book launches to pro­mote their even­tual can­di­da­cies.

HAR­RIS, shown with au­thor and mod­er­a­tor Cleo Wade, pro­motes her mem­oir, “The Truths We Hold,” at the Wil­shire Ebell Theatre in Los An­ge­les.

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