Sen. Kamala Harris in 'RS Interview: Special Edition': Watch - Rolling Stone
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‘RS Interview: Special Edition’ With Sen. Kamala Harris

The former presidential candidate speaks with senior writer Jamil Smith about her new effort to protect November’s election from the coronavirus

Five days after Rolling Stone broke the news about Kamala Harris’ new VoteSafe Act of 2020, designed to give states $5 billion to expand voter security and access to ballots in this year’s general election, the junior U.S. senator from California and member of the Senate Intelligence Committee joined me for a wide-ranging interview.

Harris, who I profiled last year during her presidential candidacy, spoke about her bill, as well as the coronavirus pandemic’s disproportionate impact on black Americans, the pressing need to protect small businesses, and the role of the vice presidency, since she is often mentioned as a potential running mate for presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden. The senator also had some sharp words for President Trump regarding his incompetent response to the coronavirus crisis. “He knew. He knew,” she said regarding the president receiving advance warnings about the possible severity of the pandemic. “We could talk about ‘We knew.’ He knew!’ ”

However, when asked what her Democratic Party can do to reassure voters in this moment, Harris again brought up the election in November. “It’s critical,” she said. “We’ve got a president of the United States who is so obsessed with what is in his personal best interest … to the pain and the demise of the people who he is in office to represent. So, we need a new president. There is no question about that.”

When asked about potentially being Biden’s running mate, and what the role the vice president could play in a crisis dealing with systemic racism issues, she answered easily:

“Those of us who take on a role of leadership in public office, the elected role or appointed or however we get here at this moment, is highlighting the significance of holding these offices in the public trust. And that means that the power that one has in these offices must be used in a way that is about the people and serving the people and being in touch with their needs. Lifting them up in terms of their circumstance, lifting people up spiritually, in terms of lifting up people’s spirits, even having some sense of of empathy and understanding about the suffering with some level of concern about one’s responsibility to help alleviate that.”

This is the fifth installment of Rolling Stone’s latest new video series, RS Interview: Special Edition, featuring in-depth conversations with notable figures in music, entertainment, and politics. New episodes premiere every Thursday afternoon on Rolling Stone’s YouTube channel.

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