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Harris plays coy on 2020 bid: ‘I’m not going to decide right now’

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Sen. Kamala Harris would not be the first Senate Democrat to launch a bid to unseat President Donald Trump in 2020 and she would almost certainly not be the last. | Zach Gibson/Getty Images

Sen. Kamala Harris said Tuesday that she has nothing to announce about a potential run for president — for now, at least.

The California Democrat said in an interview on ABC’s “Good Morning America” on Tuesday morning that “I’m not going to decide right now” whether to launch a White House bid. But asked by anchor George Stephanopoulos what would set her candidacy apart in a crowded 2020 field, she had an answer at the ready.

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“I think we’re at an inflection moment,” Harris said, pointing to the rise of automation, changing global dynamics and climate change while acknowledging that a large part of the country feels neglected or “rightly” displaced.

“I think it is clear to me that what we need in this country is leadership that has a vision of the future in which everyone can see themselves,” she said.

She also vowed that she would seek to combat a growing distrust in the government and its leaders, making no mention of President Donald Trump — who is at the center of multiple controversies and investigations — except to criticize his role in the current government shutdown.

“We must speak truth and must speak truth about issues that relate to the economic hardship that so many American families are experiencing,” she said. “We must speak truth about issues that relate to civil rights and what we need to do around a real education system in this country that works for all children and all families.”

Harris on Tuesday kicked off a press tour for her new book, an unofficial prerequisite for almost every presidential campaign, in which she credits her “very strong mother” for informing her perspective and her values. It comes as she inches towards an official 2020 campaign rollout.

Appearing on ABC’s “The View” later Tuesday morning, Harris teased an announcement soon, saying though she was “very tempted” she was “not yet ready.”

“So I’m pleased to announce on ‘The View’ that I’m not ready to make my announcement,” she joked.

Harris would not be the first Senate Democrat to launch a bid to unseat President Donald Trump in 2020 and she would almost certainly not be the last.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) last week became the first Democrat of note to throw their hat in the ring, announcing on New Year’s Eve that she was forming a 2020 exploratory committee and barnstorming across Iowa over the weekend.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who lost the Democratic nomination to Hillary Clinton in 2016, is reportedly also mulling a run, as are Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio).

Harris on Tuesday also addressed an issue that has, to the chagrin of some, dogged Warren’s nascent candidacy — the issue of whether or not women are held to different standards than men as candidates for office.

Questioning whether Warren is likable enough to ascend to the presidency has prompted cries of sexism and drawn jabs from Warren herself as well as from Hillary Clinton, the first female presidential nominee of a major political party and the subject of similar criticisms.

“I think that women are held to a different standard as a general matter and perhaps because there are just so few examples of women in these roles that people are searching for what should be the standard,” Harris said Tuesday. “Instead of understanding that the attributes of a leader are really not particular to gender.”

She also predicted that as a candidate, she would endeavor to stay above the fray if the president were to dish out shallow attacks against her.

“I think that there is something to be said for the nobility of the office of the president of the United States,” she said, arguing that “anyone who aspires to serve in that office has to give it — and the process by which one is blessed and hopefully has the ability to serve — give it the dignity it deserves.”

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