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The GOP Should Worry: Kamala Harris Is Back

Kamala Harris. Image: Creative Commons.

Kamala Harris is in Los Angeles working on her communications skills for the national debate on gun and abortion rights. She visited the set of the six-month-old Jennifer Hudson Show on April 19 to opine about issues of the moment in a friendly interview that allowed the vice president to riff on Democrat talking points. Harris is against assault weapons and for abortion rights and those stances were front and center during her conversation with Hudson.

This interview comes at a time when the White House is giving Harris a lifeline to see if she can be articulate about issues near and dear to President Joe Biden. She explained that Republican states are encroaching on the right to have an abortion and the gun lobby is as strong as ever – standing against any changes to gun laws that would limit ownership of assault weapons.

Kamala Harris: Taking on Assault Weapons

“It is reasonable to say that weapons of war have no place on the streets of America, and by that, I mean assault weapons,” Harris told Hudson. “Weapons of war. They were literally designed to be weapons of war. We need an assault weapons ban. These are reasonable things to do.”

Harris has a point. Many assault weapons are modeled on the AR-15 platform – a rifle that is similar to the M4 that U.S. military personnel use as their basic weapon. These are semi-automatic rifles that fire a 5.56mm cartridge or the .223 Remington round in which the bullet can enter the human body and cause considerable damage and death. This is the kind of rifle that is often used in mass shootings. It usually comes with a 30-round magazine and gun opponents think this bullet capacity should also be curtailed.

Millions of Assault Weapons Are Already In the Hands of Americans

But the AR-15 models are immensely popular with an estimated 15 million sold over the years. Even if legislators banned their sale today, there would be huge numbers of the weapons in the hands of Americans. Proponents of the AR-15 believe that the weapon is used by law-abiding people for home defense, hunting, and target shooting – not for random violence against people. The rifle is a symbol of the Second Amendment, and its use should not be blamed for acts of violence as other high-powered rifles are sold that can be just as dangerous as AR-15s, supporters of the weapon believe.

Kamala Harris also thinks that the gun lobby has too much power in the United States. “It is pitiful that the people in the United States Congress do not have the courage to stand up to the gun lobby, stand up to the NRA and say, ‘Look, I support the Second Amendment, but we need reasonable gun safety laws,’” the vice president said. “Have the courage.”

Articulate About the Right to Be Pro-Choice

Harris also found her footing talking about abortion rights that are being wrongly limited in the country, she said. “By undoing Roe v Wade, [they] basically made a statement that the government is in a better position to tell women what to do with their own bodies than that woman is,” the vice president explained.

She said there is an overall trend in the country in which individual rights are being eliminated and that is a problem for overall freedom in America. She wants rights to expand in the United States and not be limited (even though she wants to ban assault weapons).

This interview was mostly successful for Harris even though it was aired on a relatively new show that does not have a large national following. She delivered the goods on two issues Democrats will use to run on in 2024 – gun ownership and abortion. She wants to paint Republicans as the extremist party. Harris will likely use these talking points again as the White House is encouraging her to have issue ownership particularly on abortion, and if she can articulate Democrats’ views on assault weapons, even better.

Still Need to Improve Media Relations Skills

Harris has much work to do before her image is fully rehabilitated. Her approval ratings are around 40 percent – often lower than the president’s. She has a reputation for struggling with communication during her tenure, but she seems to do well on friendly talk shows that allow her to have a free flow of words without interruption from hostile follow-up questions. Can she keep this momentum alive and resist stumbling when delivering speeches or struggling during harder hitting interviews? The answer must be in the affirmative is she is to improve her reputation with voters. Perhaps she can build on this experience in Hollywood and bring a winning attitude to Washington, DC.

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Author Expertise and Experience

Serving as 19FortyFive’s Defense and National Security Editor, Dr. Brent M. Eastwood is the author of Humans, Machines, and Data: Future Trends in Warfare. He is an Emerging Threats expert and former U.S. Army Infantry officer. You can follow him on Twitter @BMEastwood. He holds a Ph.D. in Political Science and Foreign Policy/ International Relations.

Written By

Now serving as 1945s New Defense and National Security Editor, Brent M. Eastwood, PhD, is the author of Humans, Machines, and Data: Future Trends in Warfare. He is an Emerging Threats expert and former U.S. Army Infantry officer.