California Sen. Kamala Harris defended House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in a new interview, stating that she has had “a different experience” than New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who recently accused the House leader of “singling out of newly elected women of color.”
“That’s not my experience with Nancy Pelosi,” Harris told the host of the “The Breakfast Club,” a popular New York-based radio show, during an interview that aired Friday. “And I’ve known her and worked with her for years. I’ve known her to be very respectful of women of color and very supportive of them.”
“So, I have a difference experience.”
The comment injects Harris into a spat between Pelosi and Ocasio-Cortez, during which the House Speaker urged members against tweets admonishing fellow Democratic members of Congress. The comments have been widely seen as hostile to four progressive freshmen House Democrats known as “the squad” – Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts.
Ocasio-Cortez has stood by her critique of Pelosi, telling CNN Thursday, “It’s really just pointing out the pattern, right? We’re not talking about just progressives, it’s signaling out four individuals. And knowing the media environment that we’re operating in, knowing the amount of death threats that we get, knowing the amount of concentration of tension, I think it’s just worth asking why.”
Still, when asked if she believes that Pelosi has racial animus, Ocasio-Cortez said adamantly, “No, no, absolutely not, absolutely not.”
Despite her defense of Pelosi, Harris also praised Ocasio-Cortez in her interview with “The Breakfast Club,” which was taped on Thursday and aired on Friday.
“I think she is bold and smart as anything, so smart,” Harris said. “The thing I really like about her, among many things, is she requires people to question the premise. She isn’t going to go with status quo… she questions it.”
Asked about why she believes Ocasio-Cortez rankles older Democrats, Harris added: “When you have anyone who is as smart and as bold as her questioning the system and doing it in such an effective way, it can throw people off their game.”
Harris and Ocasio-Cortez have also recently worked together. On Wednesday, the two Democrats introduced legislation aimed at helping people with criminal records fairly obtain housing.
During the interview, Harris also was pressed about her widely-praised confrontation with former Vice President Joe Biden at last month’s Democratic primary debate, during which the California Democrat called him out over his decades-old fight against busing to desegregate schools and comments about his ability to be civil and work with segregationist senators.
Harris called Biden’s efforts to explain himself “revisionist history.”
“I’m not going to let us engage on a debate stage for who’s going to be the next president of the United States – I’m not going to allow us to engage in revisionist history,” she said. “I can’t stand on that stage and allow certain conversations to be taking place.”
Harris, however, praised the Biden for coming together with Obama in 2008 and noted her personal relationship with Beau Biden, the former vice president’s late son.
“When I was battling the big banks, Beau stood with me,” Harris said. Harris and Beau Biden worked together during their time as attorneys general for their respective states.
“Beau, his son… was an incredible person, an incredible human being and a very dear friend to me,” Harris added. “Beau and his father have a very special, special relationship and so through Beau, I got to know his father, mostly just because of the love that they shared with each other.”
Joe Biden told CNN earlier this month that he was not prepared for the way Harris attacked him at the debate, in part, because of her relationship with Beau.
Harris argued Friday that her relationship with Beau is “separate” from her differences with the former vice president.
CNN’s Clare Foran, Manu Raju, Sunlen Serfaty and Ashley Killough contributed to this report.