CNN host criticizes Kamala Harris’ habit of dodging tough questions

April 24, 2019

Kamala Harris has apparently fallen off her pedestal at CNN.

In a panel discussion Monday with CNN national political reporter Maeve Reston and Bloomberg’s Josh Green, CNN anchor Brooke Baldwin went after Harris for dodging tough questions on national television.

The unusual critique came after a CNN town hall Monday in which the California senator responded to several tough questions by suggesting that there needs to be a “conversation.”

“How many more times can the default answer be, ‘We can have that conversation?'” Baldwin lamented.

CNN rips Kamala Harris

Besides Harris, CNN hosted town halls on Monday for Democrat 2020 hopefuls Sen. Amy Klobuchar (MN), Sen. Elizabeth Warren (MA), Sen. Bernie Sanders (VT) and South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg. Baldwin was discussing CNN’s five Monday town halls when she noted Harris’ “go-to response” before playing clips of Harris avoiding direct answers four times during her town hall.

When asked whether she supports lowering the voting age to 16; letting felons, sex offenders, and terrorists like the Boston bomber vote; reparations for slavery; and student loan forgiveness, Harris responded with the same non-answer: “We should have that conversation.”

For her part, Reston, who has been covering Harris’ campaign, said that Harris avoids staking out a position “all the time” on the campaign trail, a practice the CNN reporter compared unfavorably with the overt decisiveness of Sanders and Warren, who both gave direct answers on Monday.

“That is what I call her graceful dodge,” Reston said. “She does this all the time on the campaign trail. When voters ask her questions where she’s not quite sure what position she’s going to stake out yet, but she wants to convey the idea that she might be on your side.

“It’s part of her trademark caution that we’ve seen throughout her career, and what I think could actually be a big problem for her going down the line,” Reston added. “Elizabeth Warren [and] Bernie Sanders, they just answered those questions flat out last night…with Bernie Sanders we even saw potentially something that will come back to haunt him,” she said, referring to Sanders’ clear support of letting the Boston Marathon bomber vote, “but I don’t think that voters really like that kind of caution. They want someone to really lay out what they’re thinking.”

Harris has been called Hillary 2.0 by some for her establishment-friendly politics, and Harris has even tapped into Clinton’s staff and donor network. Reston also noted Harris’ cautious, Clinton-like reliance on polls and advisers to figure out what to say.

“She often has gone back and looked at the polls and talked to advisers and is just careful about these kind[s] of questions. And is that what voters are going to want? I don’t know,” Reston said. Watch the full panel discussion below:

Moderates spewing platitudes

Harris was an early favorite of the media soon after she declared her candidacy, but Hillary 2.0 is not the only astro-turfed bundle of platitudes fighting for the nomination. As a Democrat aligned with the establishment, Harris is in roughly the same moderate lane as once-media darling Beto O’Rourke — known for delivering rousing speeches devoid of any substance while standing on cars — and Buttigieg, who is rapidly sapping O’Rourke’s media support and crowding him out in the “charismatic moderate white male” category.

While Sanders and Warren have pushed the envelope on policy, the more establishment-aligned candidates like Harris rely on inspirational-sounding but vapid rhetoric as a substitute for ideas. Of the declared candidates in the Democratic field, Sanders is the clear frontrunner, and he comes closest to a pure progressive with his radical proposals, including a genuine “Medicare for All” policy.

Sanders again showed his no-holds-barred radicalism when he said during his town hall that he would support allowing the Boston bomber to vote. While Harris initially said she welcomed a “conversation” on that topic, she changed her stance not one day later.

“Do I think that people who commit murder, people who are terrorists should be deprived of their rights? Yeah, I do. I’m a prosecutor,” Harris said, presumably after she consulted her team of expert pollsters. “There has to be serious consequences for the most extreme types of crimes.”

Harris also generated headlines earlier this year when she suggested eliminating private health insurance, a position that Sanders supports, only to walk back that position.

The California attorney-general-turned-senator was declared an early frontrunner in the Democratic primary race, but she continues to trail Sanders and former Vice President Joe Biden, and Buttigieg has overtaken her. Has the media moved on already?

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Matthew Boose

Matthew Boose is a staff writer for Conservative Institute. He has a Bachelor's degree from Stony Brook University and has contributed to The Daily Caller and The Stony Brook Press.