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Democratic strategist says Kamala Harris is "reassuring" to moderates

Paul Begala on “The Takeout”
Paul Begala on “The Takeout” 52:27

Longtime Democratic political consultant Paul Begala believes that Joe Biden's choice of Kamala Harris as his running mate will be "reassuring" to moderates but added that she also excites the base of the party. Begala has worked on several campaigns, and served as a top adviser to President Bill Clinton.

"She excites the base of my party, and she reassures those suburban, college-educated Republicans that are coming over," Begala said. "We're going to see an election, I think, with a lot of Biden Republicans, and Kamala is reassuring to them."

Although Harris has championed progressive causes as a senator, she was also a longtime prosecutor and the former attorney general of California.

Listen to this episode on ART19

Highlights from this week's episode:

  • Paul Begala on Kamala Harris' appeal to moderate voters: "We're going to see an election, I think, with a lot of Biden Republicans, and Kamala is reassuring to them."
  • Joe Biden's choice of Harris as his running mate: "Picking someone who had gotten right up at him, that shows a security, a sense of self-confidence that frankly we're lacking now."
  • Republicans' mixed messaging on Harris: "How do you not know where you want to go against the leading candidate for vice president who the nominee then winds up picking? It's malpractice."
  • Mistakes he made in the 2016 election: "[Mr. Trump's] piggish personal behavior was so distracting to me that we fixated on that."

Begala also praised Biden for choosing Harris even though they had been rivals for the Democratic nomination. The two had sparred over Biden's record on racial issues in a debate last year.

"Picking someone who had gotten right up at him, that shows a security, a sense of self-confidence that frankly we're lacking now," Begala said. "Donald Trump's a very weak person, he only wants sycophants around him."

Begala slammed President Trump and his campaign for its scattershot strategy in attacking Harris after she was chosen. Republicans have at once critiqued her for being too liberal, while also arguing that she is not progressive enough for the party's left wing.

"As a Democrat, I think it's hilarious. As a strategist, though, honestly I'm offended. How do you not know where you want to go against the leading candidate for vice president who the nominee then winds up picking? It's malpractice," Begala said.

Begala also talked about his work with the super PAC that supported Hillary Clinton in the 2016 campaign, acknowledging the mistakes they made in highlighting Mr. Trump's temperament rather than his record as an "utterly failed" businessman.

"I took my eyes off that and all of our attack ads were about his character," Begala said. "His piggish personal behavior was so distracting to me that we fixated on that."

For more of Major's conversation with Begala, download "The Takeout" podcast on Art19, iTunesGooglePlaySpotify and Stitcher. New episodes are available every Friday morning. Also, you can watch "The Takeout" on CBSN Friday at 5pm, 9pm, and 12am ET and Saturday at 1pm, 9pm, and 12am ET. For a full archive of "The Takeout" episodes, visit www.takeoutpodcast.com. And you can listen to "The Takeout" on select CBS News Radio affiliates (check your local listings).  

Producers: Arden Farhi, Jamie Benson, Sara Cook and Eleanor Watson
CBSN Production: Eric Soussanin, Julia Boccagno and Grace Segers
Show email: TakeoutPodcast@cbsnews.com
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