In the span of just over a year and a half, President Donald Trump has gone from praising Sen. Kamala Harris’ crowd sizes to saying a Harris presidency would be “an insult to our country.”
It’s not hard to surmise why: Harris, now the vice presidential candidate on the Democratic ticket alongside Joe Biden, has proven to be a boon to the Biden campaign and a clear threat to Trump.
Her nomination propelled Democrats and the Biden campaign toward raising a historic $364 million last month. And Biden’s pick has also appeared to be attractive to voters, with polls suggesting she’s one of the most popular active politicians in the country.
Meanwhile, a new CBS News/YouGov poll out this week shows Biden’s lead over Trump is the steadiest on record. And the Trump campaign appears to have lost its cash advantage, according to the New York Times. As a result, Trump is now saying he would be willing to spend his own money during the campaign.
While Trump appears to have first praised Harris’ performance as a 2020 contender, his rhetoric seems to have sharply pivoted, with Trump hurling political and personal insults against her, including calling her incompetent, nasty and disrespectful.
Respect for crowd sizes
Trump weighed in on Harris’ performance as a presidential contender in January 2019, around the kickoff to Democratic presidential primary campaigning season, telling The New York Times at the time that she had “the best opening so far.”
“I would say in terms of the opening act, I would say, would be her,” he said. “A better crowd – better crowd, better enthusiasm.”
Through the summer of 2019, the President suggested Harris wasn’t much of a threat as a candidate, citing her drop in the polls, and didn’t speak about her potential candidacy often.
In the summer of 2020, rumors suggesting Harris could be Biden’s vice presidential pick were surfacing. Asked in July 2020 whether she would be a good vice presidential pick, Trump told members of the press: “I think she’d be a fine choice, Kamala Harris. She’d be a fine choice.”
‘Very nasty,’ ‘disrespectful’
When Biden chose Harris as his vice presidential running mate, the President’s rhetoric took a sudden turn. He not only moved toward criticizing her policy positions more frequently, but also used turned to personal and sexist insults.
At a press briefing on the day of Biden’s VP pick announcement, Trump called Harris “a big tax raiser” and “a big slasher of funds for our military.” Then he took personal swipes, calling her disrespectful and nasty – a term he’s almost exclusively used to refer to female Democrats and critics.
“(S)he was very, very nasty to … she was probably nastier than even (Sen. Elizabeth Warren) to Joe Biden,” Trump said. “She was very disrespectful to Joe Biden. And it’s hard to pick somebody that’s that disrespectful.”
He also slammed her treatment of Brett Kavanaugh during a confirmation hearing for his nomination to the US Supreme Court.
“That was a horrible event. I thought it was terrible for her. I thought it was terrible for our nation. I thought she was the meanest, the most horrible, most disrespectful of anybody in the US Senate,” Trump said.
A few days later, he shared a tweet where someone is quoted as saying, “Kamala Harris is really Bernie Sanders with a skirt.” He shared another one calling Harris “shameless” and “clearly willing to do anything for power.”
And at campaign stops in August, Trump took to calling Harris mean, referred to her Biden’s boss, said she’s “got some big issues” and called her “a disaster.”
‘Not competent,’ ‘an insult to our country’
As the presidential race has heated up, the President has upped the ante, insulting Harris’ intellect at rallies and calling a prospective Harris presidency “an insult to our country.”
And at a rally in New Hampshire in late August, the President asserted that Harris wasn’t competent to be a US president in waiting because she failed to have successful poll numbers during her 2020 presidential run.
“You know, I want to see the first woman president also, but I don’t want to see a woman president get into that position the way she’d do it – and she’s not competent. She’s not competent. They’re all saying, ‘We want Ivanka.’ I don’t blame you,” Trump said, appearing to suggest his daughter and senior adviser was more equipped to run the country.
At a rally in North Carolina this week, Trump called Harris unlikeable.
“You know what, people don’t like her. Nobody likes her. She could never be the first woman president. She could never be. That would be an insult to our country,” Trump said.
He also repeated another go-to criticism: Harris’ failed campaign for president.
“You remember Kamala she started at 15, she was supposed to win. Problem was she went from 15, to 14, to 12, to ten, to seven, to four, it’s like a free fall,” he remarked.
The President’s particular disparagement of Black women
Harris, the first Black woman and the first South Asian American woman to accept a major party’s vice presidential nomination, has been a US senator representing California since 2017. Previously, she was the California attorney general and served as district attorney of San Francisco before that.
The President’s history of disparaging remarks includes calling questions from some African American reporters “dumb” or “stupid.” And when an Asian American reporter asked why the President frequently claims the US is doing far better on testing for coronavirus but every day Americans are still dying from the virus, Trump told her, “Don’t ask me, ask China that question, OK?”
He also employed racist stereotypes to disparage a Black city official and a former staffer.
Trump claimed Washington, DC’s Democratic mayor, Muriel Bowser, is “always looking for money”, said she’s “incompetent” and that she’s “constantly coming back to us for ‘handouts.’”
He’s also called his former aide-turned critic, Omarosa Manigault Newman, “whacky,” “deranged,” a “low life” and claimed that “people in the White House hated her.” In another tweet, he called her a dog.
“She was vicious, but not smart,” Trump tweeted after her departure from the White House.
Trump has also made a number of disparaging remarks about the intelligence and appearance of women in general over the years.
He said MSNBC anchor Mika Brzezinski had a “low IQ.” He said Arianna Huffington “is unattractive both inside and out.”
He’s also called Harris and other women who oppose his policies “nasty.” And he’s referred to women who live in suburbs as “housewives.” While most suburban women work, he’s argued that it is a term they embrace.
CNN’s Jason Hoffman contributed to this report.