The Democratic presidential debate in Detroit Wednesday night witnessed a heated war of words between two female lawmakers. Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, who is trailing in the polls, launched a scathing attack on California Senator Kamala Harris over her record on the criminal justice system as the Attorney General of California. "The bottom line is, Senator Harris, when you were in a position to make a decision and an impact in these people's lives you did not and worse yet, in the case of those who are on death row, innocent people you actually blocked evidence from being revealed that would have freed them until you were forced to do so," Gabbard said.
Gabbard, the first Hindu elected to the U.S. Congress and run for the presidency, sought an apology from Harris to the people "who suffered under" her reign as prosecutor. The first Indian-American Senator retorted, "As the elected attorney general of California, I did the work of significantly reforming the criminal justice system of a state of 40 million people which became a national model for the work that needs to be done." Gabbard alleged that Harris kept people in prison beyond their sentences to use them as cheap labor for California and "fought to keep the trash bail system in place".
Harris tried to defend her actions as Attorney General to oppose the death penalty. "When I was in the position on having to decide whether or not to seek a death penalty on cases I prosecuted I made a very difficult decision that was not popular--to not seek the death penalty...and I am proud of those decisions," said Harris, who is the daughter of immigrants from India and Jamaica.
In her memoir, "The Truths We Hold: An American Journey," the 54-year old Senator said she thinks that the country is ready for a president who is a woman of color. Responding to a question on the Trump administration's policy of separating children of illegal immigrants from their parents and keeping them in detention camps, Harris said, "These children have not committed crimes... and should not be treated like criminals."
Gabbard also urged the government to stop separating children from their parents and called for humane immigration policies.
"Tulsi Gabbard hit Kamala Harris harder tonight than Joe Biden has ever been able to," Politico editor Charlie Mahtesian said. The military combat veteran serving as the U.S. Representative for Hawaii claimed that following the last two debates, she has emerged as the most searched Democratic candidate on Google. "Tulsi has spiked to #1 in Google Trends, showing America is hungry for her message of ending wasteful wars and the nuclear arms race," said a message on her Twitter page.
While no woman has won the U.S. presidency, there are a record number of women running for the Democratic Party nomination - Harris, Gabbard, Kirsten Gillibrand, Amy Klobuchar Elizabeth Warren, and Marianne Williamson.