Washington: Indian-origin Senator Kamala Harris launched her 2020 presidential bid on Sunday with a scathing rebuke of President Donald Trump's policies, alleging that the US democracy was under attack like never before.
Recollecting the fighting spirit of her Indian mother, Shyamala Gopalan, who migrated to the US from Tamil Nadu for studies, Harris told a cheering crowd in her hometown of Oakland, California, that this was not going to be an easy election pitted against an incumbent like Trump.
"My mother used to say don't sit around and complain about things. Do something," the 54-year-old, said rebuke in her impressive speech that lasted for more than 30 minutes.
"With the fighting spirit I got from my mother, I stand before you today to announce my candidacy for president of the United States. And I will tell you, I'm running for president, because I love my country. I am running to be the president, of the people, by the people and for all people," Harris told the crowd estimated to be around 20,000, a few blocks away from where she was born.
Harris, announced her presidential candidacy last Monday on Martin Luther King Jr Day and, within days, has been voted on top of the list of Democratic leaders aspiring to defeat Trump in the November 2020 election.
So far four women have entered the race. Apart from Harris, the three others are Senators Elizabeth Warren, Kirsten Gillibrand and Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard from Hawaii.
All of them have to pass through a grilling presidential primary beginning next January, the winner of which would be announced in the Democratic National Convention in July 2020. The nominee would challenge incumbent Trump in the presidential election in November that year.
Quoting the former presidential candidate Robert Kennedy, Harris said challenging an incumbent is not easy. "Of course, we know this is not going to be easy guys. We know what the doubters will say is that they always say, they'll say it's not your time. They'll say, wait your turn. They'll say, the odds are long. They'll say, it can't be done.... But, America's story has always been written by people who can see what can be unburdened by what has been... That's our story."
"I say to you my friends, these are not ordinary times, and this will not be an ordinary election. But this is our America.... We can reclaim the American dream for every single person in our country. We can restore America's moral leadership on this planet," she added.
Asserting that she running to fight for an America where the economy works for working, Harris promised education and healthcare for all if elected as the 46th US president. She was the first African-American and Indian-American attorney of California, before being elected as the US Senator. Already having many firsts in her name, Harris will be the first woman president of the country if she wins.
Ripping apart Trump over his plan to build a wall along the Mexico border to prevent illegal immigrants, Harris described it as a "medieval vanity" project.
"We are here knowing, we are at an inflection point in the history of our world. We are at an inflection point in the history of our nation. We are here because of the American dream and our American democracy are under attack and on the line like never before.
"We are here at this moment in time because we must answer a fundamental question Who are we? Who are we as American? So let's answer that question to the world and each other right here and right now. America we are better than this," she said amidst applause and cheers from her supporters.
"When we have leaders, who bully and attack a free press and undermine our democratic institutions, that's not our America. When white supremacists march and murder in Charlottesville after the massacre innocent worshippers in our Pittsburgh synagogue, that's not our America.
"When we have children in cages crying for their mothers and fathers, don't you dare call that border security. That's a human rights issue. That's not our America. When we have leaders, who attack public schools and vilify public school teachers, that's not America," Harris said.
She alleged that racism, sexism, anti-Semitism, homophobia and transphobia were real in this country. "They are age-old forms of hate with new fear. We need to speak their truth so that we can deal with it."
Alleging that too many black and brown Americans are being locked up for mass incarceration, she called for drastic repair of criminal justice system. "Let's also speak the truth that too many unarmed black men and women are killed in America."
Critical of Trump's foreign policy, Harris said under this administration, America's position in the world had never been weaker. "When democratic values are under attack around the globe, when authoritarianism is on the march, when nuclear proliferation is on the rise, when we have foreign powers infecting the White House like Malware, let's speak about truth our present danger," she said.
"And let's face the biggest truth, the biggest truth of all: In the face of powerful forces trying to sow hate and division among us, the truth is that as Americans we have so much more in common than what separates us," she added.