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Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) dismissed criticism of her record as a prosecutor who jailed marijuana offenders and later joked about her personal cannabis consumption on Wednesday, refusing to respond to an attack that Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) laid for the duration of the Democratic presidential debate.

Throughout a post-debate interview on CNN, host Anderson Cooper played a clip of Gabbard saying she’s “deeply concerned about this record,” referring to Harris’s time as California’s lawyer basic.

“There are also quite a few examples to cite, but she place more than 1,500 individuals in jail for marijuana violations and then laughed about it when she was asked if she ever smoked marijuana,” Gabbard mentioned, drawing applause.

(PolitiFact mentioned it couldn’t promptly confirm the quantity of cannabis situations attempted when Harris was lawyer basic but noted that she would not have been the a single to personally prosecute these folks, with reduced-level state attorneys alternatively handling the situations.)

Rather than straight address the criticism, Harris mentioned right after the debate that she wasn’t shocked by the attack and that she does not take her opponent’s opinion seriously for unrelated motives.

“This is going to sound immodest, but I’m certainly a best tier candidate and so I did count on that I would be on the stage and take hits tonight for the reason that there are a lot of individuals that are attempting to make the stage for the subsequent debate,” Harris mentioned. “Especially when individuals are at zero or a single % or what ever she may be at. I did count on that I may take hits tonight.”

Then she mentioned that Gabbard is an “apologist for [Syrian President Bashar al-Assad], who has murdered the individuals of his nation like cockroaches.”

“She who has embraced him, been an apologist for him in a way that she refuses to contact him a war criminal. I can only take what she says and her opinion so seriously,” the California senator mentioned.

“And so I’m ready to move on,” she mentioned, without having adding a single word of substantive response to the congresswoman’s criticism of her cannabis record.

Ian Sams, national press secretary for Harris’s campaign, previewed his boss’s take with a tweet for the duration of the debate, writing, basically, “Yo, you adore Assad!”

But when Gabbard’s views on Assad have been a supply of controversy, the issues she raised about Harris’s record are not exclusive to her. Drug reform advocates have similarly questioned Harris, who has only lately embraced extensive cannabis legalization right after actively opposing efforts to legalize marijuana in her state.

Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), yet another Democratic candidate, has also raised a comparable point about the lighthearted manner in which Harris discussed her previous marijuana use.

“We have presidential candidates and congresspeople and senators that now speak about their marijuana use practically as if it is funny,” Booker mentioned in March shortly right after Harris talked about smoking cannabis in college in an interview. “But meanwhile, in 2017, we had extra arrests for marijuana possession in this nation than all the violent crime arrests combined.”

Quite a few Republican celebration operatives rallied behind Gabbard’s criticism, signaling that they think a longtime anti-marijuana record is a liability for Harris should really she develop into her party’s nominee.

In her personal post-debate interview, Gabbard mentioned that Harris “never addressed the difficulties that I brought up.”

“These are examples that have been broadly reported and documented,” the congresswoman mentioned. “I assume the individuals deserve answers. She mentioned tonight, a couple of occasions, how proud she is of her record, but there are also quite a few individuals in California who have straight suffered, households who’ve been torn apart, individuals who have individually been harmed for the reason that of the choices that she created as lawyer basic.”

“People like Kamala Harris require to be held accountable for their record—not for some thing she mentioned or did 50 years ago, this is some thing that she did in her final job prior to she was elected as a U.S. senator,” she mentioned.

Asked about Harris’s spin area response to the exchange and the senator’s criticism of Gabbard as it associated to Assad, the congresswoman mentioned “I assume it is unfortunate and a disservice to voters in this nation that she resorts to affordable smears rather than really addressing her record—the difficulties that I’ve raised and the truth that she mentioned she’s proud of this record.”

“If that is the case, then voters deserve to hear about why she’s so proud of the lives that she has negatively impacted, the households that she’s torn apart in California,” she mentioned.

Democratic Presidential Candidates Clash On Marijuana At Debate

Photo courtesy of YouTube/CNN.

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