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Kamala Harris Just Jumped Into the Top Tier

Debates don’t always matter or have clear effects, but the second night of the first round had one very likely effect: Kamala Harris is going to be propelled into the first tier of candidates.

Harris is known primarily for her prosecutorial skills in Senate hearings, which she has used to rattle and control Republican witnesses. The debate showed her displaying her abilities in a different, more freewheeling format.

eye-catching exchange came when she interrogated Joe Biden for his comments praising segregationist senators, and his opposition to federally directed school busing. But she also effectively communicated other issues, like climate change and health care, expressing her position in terms that related the experience of regular people with abstract-issue logic. Her command was so overwhelming that almost every unaligned journalist I saw on Twitter, ranging from left to right, agreed that she won.

would abolish private health insurance in favor of a government plan. This is an extremely unpopular stance that she supported in an interview earlier this year, and then backed away from. (“What I meant is, let’s get rid of the bureaucracy,” she later said.) Why she returned to a position she had abandoned is unclear. She could pay a high price in a general election.

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— Steve Kornacki (@SteveKornacki) June 28, 2019

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