Fresh off Sen. Kamala Harris’ announcement that she is running for the White House in 2020, the California Democrat heads to Iowa next Monday to face questions from the state’s influential voters at a town hall hosted by CNN’s Jake Tapper.
The CNN town hall at Drake University in Des Moines – which will air at 10 p.m. ET, 9 p.m. CT and 7 p.m. PT – will offer Harris her first chance to connect with Iowa’s Democratic caucus-goers after her debut as a 2020 contender. She received a heroes’ welcome from women in the Hawkeye State last fall when she campaigned for down-ballot female candidates in a tour that took her across the state.
That visit followed her aggressive questioning of then-Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh at the height of #MeToo movement and the sexual assault allegations against Kavanaugh, which he denied. In intimate encounters that often brought them to tears, many of the women who approached Harris in Iowa told the former prosecutor about their own struggles with sexual harassment and sexual assault and said she spoke for them with her tough questions during the judiciary committee hearing.
While some of the other potential 2020 contenders like former Vice President Joe Biden and Vermont Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders have deeper roots in Iowa, Harris plans to compete both there and in New Hampshire. She hopes she can build momentum heading into the South Carolina primary, where she has a strong chance if she is able to consolidate the African-American vote that dominates the Democratic primary electorate.
Beyond South Carolina, Harris allies hope she could pull off a strong finish in Nevada, her neighboring state, and then her home state of California, which has moved its primary up to March 3. (California will begin mailing out ballots on February 3 next year, the same day as the Iowa caucus.)
Along with California, Harris would attempt to notch a series of delegate wins in the southeastern states that fall in March including Alabama, North Carolina, Tennessee, Mississippi and Louisiana.
During her last visit to Iowa, Harris fondly recalled her days campaigning for her longtime friend Barack Obama in 2008 when she was the relatively unknown district attorney of San Francisco. She noted that she became the pizza-delivery person during that last week of campaigning in Iowa because “no job was too small.”
She will campaign Friday in South Carolina and make a late night appearance Thursday on “The Daily Show” with Trevor Noah.
CNN hosted town halls during the 2016 cycle with Sanders, eventual nominee Hillary Clinton and former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley. This will be CNN’s first town hall of the 2020 season.